Bill Evans – At Shelly’s Manne-Hole

More Bill Evans

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Piano

  • This superb live album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are Tubey Magical yet clear, with plenty of performance energy and a lovely musical quality that’s noticeably missing from many of the copies we’ve played over the years (and no doubt the Heavy Vinyl pressing)
  • 4 stars: “. . . a 1964 release that finds the entire band in classic form. . . Jazz is rarely as sensitive or as melodic as this. Another classic from Bill Evans and company.”

This vintage Riverside Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 sitting in the studio 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 Bill Evans Trio at Shelly’s Manne-Hole 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 1963
  • 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 studio space

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 Bill Evans Trio at Shelly’s Manne-Hole

  • 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Players

  • Bill Evans – piano
  • Chuck Israels – bass
  • Larry Bunker – drums

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Isn’t It Romantic
The Boy Next Door
Wonder Why
Swedish Pastry

Side Two

Our Love Is Here To Stay
‘Round Midnight
Stella By Starlight
Blues In “F”

AMG 4 Star Review

Although the Scott LaFaro-Paul Motian lineup of the Bill Evans Trio is generally considered to be the strongest, Chuck Israels and Larry Bunker make a strong case of their own on At Shelly’s Manne-Hole, a 1964 release that finds the entire band in classic form. This particular trio may lack some of the sheer combustive force of the better-known lineup, but it is, if possible, even more sensitive, melancholic, and nostalgic than the previous band. The leadoff track, “Isn’t It Romantic,” is one of Evans’ finest moments, with the gently swinging theme leading into a strong, if restrained, solo from Israels.

Over Bunker’s sensitive brush work, Evans comments briefly and beautifully on the theme before returning to the head. The band’s readings of such classics as “‘Round Midnight,” “Stella By Starlight,” and “All the Things You Are” are wonderful, but it is the lesser-known tracks, such as “Swedish Pastry” and the aforementioned “Isn’t It Romantic,” that makes this recording so valuable. Jazz is rarely as sensitive or as melodic as this. Another classic from Bill Evans and company.

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