Shelly Manne / Bill Evans – Empathy

More Bill Evans

More Shelly Manne

  • With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, there is nothing that could touch this original stereo copy
  • This outstanding Jazz Piano Trio album is truly a Forgotten Classic with DEMO DISC audiophile quality sound – on this copy anyway
  • So big, so rich, so transparent, so open, so musical – this copy showed us that this album can compete with any recording by Bill or Shelly
  • Allmusic 4 Stars: “Evans was freed from the musical parameters he had set for his then-current trio. The result is that his playing seemed lighter, freer, and more relaxed than it had for a while. “

There is practically nothing to fault in the sound of either side of this pressing – what a record!

Both sides are Tubey Magical, rich, open, spacious and tonally correct. We’ve never heard the record sound better, and that’s coming from someone who’s been playing the album for at least ten years.

The sound was jumpin’ out of the speakers. There was not a trace of smear on the piano, which is unusual in our experience, although no one ever seems to talk about smeary pianos in the audiophile world (except for us of course).

Monty Budwig’s bass is huge, probably bigger than it would be in real life but I can live with that. Again, with an extended top end the space of the studio and harmonics of the instruments are reproduced correctly.

I would not expect to hear either side sound better than they do right here. And how many copies of this album can we find in audiophile condition?

The Piano

If you have big, full-range speakers one of the qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano is WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we’ve all heard countless times in piano bars and restaurants.

In other words like a real piano, not a recorded one. This is what good live recordings tend to do well. There isn’t time to mess with the sound. Often the mix is live, so messing around after the fact is just not an option. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn out stampers and bad vinyl and five gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies. But a few — a very few — copies survive all such hazards. They manage to capture these wonderful musical performances on vinyl, showing us the sound we never expected from Verve. This is one.

Skip the Mono

This album is more common in mono than stereo, but we found the sound of the mono pressings we played seriously wanting. They were dramatically smaller, more veiled, more recessed and more lifeless than most of the stereo pressings we played.

At first we thought the bass was rich and punchy, and it was, but everything else, especially the piano, was dramatically worse.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

The Washington Twist
Danny Boy
Let’s Go Back To The Waltz

Side Two

With A Song In My Heart
Goodbye
I Believe In You

AMG 4 Star Review

This album came about through a fortuitous convergence of circumstances. Shelly Manne & His Men were appearing at New York’s Village Vanguard, sharing the bill with the Bill Evans Trio. Getting Riverside’s permission to let the pianist participate, Creed Taylor set up a session at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio with Evans and Manne sharing top billing. Manne’s bass player, Monty Budwig, made up the trio.

This was a busman’s holiday for Evans, who was freed from the musical parameters he had set for his then-current trio. The result is that his playing seemed lighter, freer, and more relaxed than it had for a while.

The album kicks off with a jaunty version of Irving Berlin’s “The Washington Twist” from the unsuccessful Mr. President, with Budwig sharing the honors with Evans as much as Manne. Manne spends most of his time driving Evans into more diminished and sharper playing than was usually Evans’ wont. Another relatively unfamiliar Berlin work, “Let’s Go Back to the Waltz,” gives full reign to Evans’ lyricism.

The longest tune on the set is an audacious, almost lampooned version of “With a Song in My Heart” with light chordal phrasing that pretty much characterized much of the tone coming from this session.

Listening to these three, it’s clear that everyone was having a good time and simply enjoying being relieved of their duties with their regular combos, even if for just one day.

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