Bill Evans – California Here I Come

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California Here I Come

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  • This wonderful live double album boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish 
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs
  • Recorded live at Village Vanguard in New York City in August of 1967, this LP captures this stellar trio’s superb sound
  • 4 1/2 stars: “[Evans] trades introspection for upbeat on this entertaining live set featuring the propulsive drumming of ‘Philly’ Joe Jones and Evans’ new young bassist Eddie Gomez… This trio swings and sparkles through a varied song-list that includes show tunes, some jazz standards and a few originals.”

This Verve T-Label pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are there, live at Village Vanguard in New York City with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of California Here I Come have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1967
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on California Here I Come

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the piano and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt — Phil Ramone in the case — would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

Bill Evans – piano
Eddie Gómez – bass
Philly Joe Jones – drums

TRACK LISTING

Side One

California Here I Come
Polka Dots And Moonbeams
Turn Out The Stars
Stella By Starlight

Side Two

You’re Gonna Hear From Me
In A Sentimental Mood
G Waltz
Green Dolphin Street

Side Three

Gone Wiht The Wind
If You Could See Me Now
Alfie
Very Early

Side Four

Round Midnight
Emily
Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams

AMG 4 Star Review

Philly Joe Jones was a member of the Bill Evans Trio for a short time in 1967 but none of his recordings with the pianist were released at the time. This two-LP set from 1982 features the pair (along with bassist Eddie Gomez who had recently started his own longtime association with Evans) in superb form.

Jones consistently lit a fire under the pianist and, even though Bill Evans was never just an introspective ballad pianist (which became his stereotype), he does play with some unaccustomed ferocity on several of these selections. The 71 minutes of music feature strong versions of three of Evans’ originals … Well worth searching for.

AMG 4 1/2 Star User Review

Despite reinventing the jazz piano trio, Bill Evans was often accused of providing little more than sophisticated supper-club background music, He trades introspection for upbeat on this entertaining live set featuring the propulsive drumming of ‘Philly’ Joe Jones and Evans’ new young bassist Eddie Gomez.

This trio swings and sparkles through a varied song-list that includes show tunes, some jazz standards and a few originals. Group improvisation is still paramount but the rigid song structures ensured there was little of the castles-in-the-clouds meandering that was prominent on many Bill Evans Trio recordings. Loyal fans, of course, will happily listen to Evans play an hour of scales, but for casual listeners, there is much here to be engaged by.