The piano playing by Kenny Drew is the album's somewhat underrated strength. Drew does an excellent job of accompanying Baker's vocals, breaking away for highly dexterous, tightly controlled solos. The rhythm section for these sessions was a combination of four musicians. Half the album's tunes features George Morrow on bass, while the others feature Sam Jones. The drumming is mostly handled by Philly Joe Jones, with Dannie Richmond filling in on three numbers. With most of the songs hovering around the three minute mark, the combo's function here is supporting their leader. Award winning jazz writer Doug Ramsey contributes an informative new essay to go with the original notes.
Recorded live at the Village Vanguard, June 25th, 1961, the Bill Evans Trio established an very high standard of excellence with Waltz For Debby. Ten days later, bassist Scott LaFaro was killed in a car accident at the age of twenty-five. His legacy (a career that spanned only six years) lives on in this transcendent recording. The work of Evans on piano, LaFaro on bass, and drummer Paul Motian is hypnotic. Their interplay is fascinating, with each member contributing distinctive parts. Evans meditative piano playing is the obvious highlight, but rarely has a rhythm section been so well attuned to their leader.
The original six tune album is augmented with an exploration of "Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)" and three alternate takes of tunes found earlier in the album. The fidelity of the live recording is utterly crystalline, especially considering its vintage. Every time someone so much as coughs (which occurs numerous times during the opener, "My Foolish Heart"), the microphones capture it. Not that listeners want to be distracted by audience noise - the upside is the spine-tinglingly rich nuance audible in each instrument. New liner notes were contributed by the album's original producer, Orrin Keepnews.
Even if they don't recognize his name, pianist Vince Guaraldi is one of the best known jazz musicians amongst people who have little to no interest in the genre. Guaraldi composed and performed the indelible scores for numerous Peanuts television specials. Tunes like "Linus and Lucy," "Charlie Brown Theme," and "Christmas Time Is Here" are all his work. Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus preceded his Peanuts work, but its best known track reportedly inspired producer Lee Mendelson to hire Guaraldi to score A Charlie Brown Christmas.