Bill Evans – Trio ’64

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  • Bob Simpson engineered along with Val Valentin, two of the greats in our world – these guys are responsible for an awful lot of our favorite audiophile quality recordings
  • 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)
  • The vinyl on these early Verve pressings is the problem – so hard to find them in audiophile playing condition
  • 4 stars: “Evans’ nimble and emphatic syncopation is not only ably supported, but framed by [bassist Gary] Peacock’s expressive runs and [drummer Paul] Motian’s acute sense of timing. “A Sleeping Bee” is one of the collection’s most endearing selections as the groove playfully scintillates surrounding some hauntingly poignant chord changes [while] “Always” captures a similar effervescence as the instrumentalists ebb and flow in synchronicity.
  • If you’re a fan of Bill Evans, this is a Must Own trio release from 1964. The complete list of titles from 1964 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This vintage Verve 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 Trio ’64 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 1964
  • 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 Trio ’64

  • 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Little Lulu
A Sleeping Bee
Always
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Side Two

I’ll See You Again
For Heaven’s Sake
Dancing In The Dark
Everything Happens To Me

AMG  Review

Joining Bill Evans (piano) on Trio ’64 — his initial three-piece recording for Verve — is the compact rhythm section of Gary Peacock (bass) and Paul Motian (drums). The effort spotlights their communal and intuitive musical discourse, hinging on an uncanny ability of the musicians to simultaneously hear and respond. All the more interesting, Evans had not interacted in this setting before, having most recently worked with Chuck Israels (bass) and Larry Bunker (drums).

The personable opener, “Little Lulu,” features the aggregate melodically molding individual and distinct sonic characteristics. Evans’ nimble and emphatic syncopation is not only ably supported, but framed by Peacock’s expressive runs and Motian’s acute sense of timing. “A Sleeping Bee” is one of the collection’s most endearing selections as the groove playfully scintillates surrounding some hauntingly poignant chord changes. Evans bandies back and forth with Peacock, the latter likewise providing a stellar solo. “Always” captures a similar effervescence as the instrumentalists ebb and flow in synchronicity.

Since the December 18 session was held the week before Christmas 1963, they fittingly tote out “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” creating a minor masterpiece of post-bop from what could easily have started as a spontaneous seasonal suggestion. Noël Coward’s “I’ll See You Again” bears a brisk waltz persona, enabling the unit to fluently weave its offerings without obstructing the otherwise affective tune.

Concluding Trio ’64 is Rodgers & Hart’s standard “Everything Happens to Me,” with an unhurried tempo lingering just long enough to embrace the familiar refrain. Evans sparkles, gliding around Peacock’s full-bodied basslines and Motian’s solid yet restrained beat.

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