Top Artists – Bill Evans

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.

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Bill Evans / Bill Evans Trio with Symphony Orchestra – Not Recommended

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We played a short stack of these, the second album Evans made with symphony orchestra, but we found the strings just too shrill for our taste, so we gave up, at least for now.

For 34 years we’ve been helping music loving audiophiles the world over avoid bad sounding records.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find this one in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another. The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the all-too-often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable.

Bill Evans – At Shelly’s Manne-Hole

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  • 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.”

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Bill Evans / Village Vanguard Sessions – Live and Learn

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Reviews and Commentaries for the music of Bill Evans

A classic case of Live and Learn. Many years ago we had played copies of the record and thought the sound was fine, shootout material in fact. Flash forward to 2015 or 2016. Now it sounds thin, flat and opaque. Worse, it’s actually in mono.

On today’s modern stereos it leaves a lot to be desired, and for that reason, we say Skip It.

A stereo recording reissued in mono for no apparent reason? What were they smoking over there at Milestone? 

For records that we think sound best in mono, click here.

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Bill Evans – The Bill Evans Album

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  • A superb copy of Evans’ 1971 release with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • An outstanding later recording for Bill Evans, superior to many of the albums he made around this time – it’s rich, smooth and Tubey Magical, with an especially musical quality, hence the solid grades
  • Balanced, clear and undistorted, this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then, even as late as 1971
  • 4 stars: “Although not as distinctive on the electric keyboard as he was on its acoustic counterpart, Evans sounds inspired by its possibilities and is heard in top creative form throughout the date.”

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Bill Evans / Symbiosis – One of the Few MPS Pressings with (Potentially) Top Sound

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  • An outstanding copy of Evans’ wonderful 1974 album accompanied by symphony orchestra with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
  • We dropped the needle on a copy years ago and heard wonderful audiophile sound right from the get-go
  • Bigger, richer, more Tubey Magical, with more extension on both ends of the spectrum and more depth, width and height than most other copies we played
  • We are not big fans of the MPS label — most of their stuff, especially the Oscar Peterson records they made, is not very good — but we sure liked this one
  • “… a special and unique entry in Evans’ huge catalog… Not your “typical” Bill Evans album–but that’s what makes SYMBIOSIS such a fine, gently challenging listen.”

On the best copies the strings have wonderful texture and sheen. If your system isn’t up to it (or you have a copy with a problem in this area), the strings might sound a little shrill and possibly grainy as well, but I’m here to tell you that the sound on the best copies is just fine with respect to string tone and timbre. You will need to look elsewhere for the problem. (more…)

Bill Evans – The Paris Concert, Edition Two

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  • A superb original pressing with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish and fairly quiet vinyl
  • These sides are doing most everything right – as befits a live concert, there’s an overall unprocessed quality to the sound and superb space around all three players
  • 4 1/2 stars: “[T]his could be considered Bill Evans’ final recording and serves as evidence that, rather than declining, he was showing a renewed vitality and enthusiasm in his last year.”

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Miles Davis / Basic Miles – Here Is the Hot Stamper Sound of Kind of Blue

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Reviews and Commentaries for Kind of Blue

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Yet Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound

  • Demo Disc Jazz sound for this wonderful collection, with both sides earning outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades
  • Opening side two, the 9 plus minutes of On Green Dolphin Street has some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear, on any record, at any price
  • If you want to know what the better copies of Kind of Blue sound like, this pressing will tell you, because it has that sound
  • And that means it is absolutely NOTHING like the MoFi 45 RPM 2 LP pressing that some audiophiles (and the reviewers who cater to them) seem to like so much
  • We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match

Want to know how good our Hot Stamper Kind of Blue pressings sound? Listen to this very record. If you play the tracks that were recorded in 1958, the year before Kind of Blue, you will hear practically the same lineup of musicians.

That means Stella By Starlight and Little Melonae on side one, and Green Dolphin Street and Fran-Dance (Put Your Little Foot Right Out) on side two. We’re talking Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and Cannonball Adderley in their prime, 1958, with top 1958 sound to match.

The nine-minute plus Green Dolphin Street that opens side two is nothing short of amazing, some of the coolest jazz you will ever hear. With Fran Dance on the same side, that gives you about 17 minutes of great-sounding jazz by Miles’ classic Kind of Blue lineup.

Side one has the same cats playing for more than 12 minutes. By my calculation, that’s close to another album’s worth of material from the group. The rest of the material on this compilation is best seen as gravy; maybe not essential, but never less than interesting. (more…)

Bill Evans – Conception

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  • A KILLER copy of Conception with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on all FOUR sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find a copy that’s this well balanced, big and lively, with wonderful clarity in the mids and highs
  • 4 stars: “Even in 1956, Evans had his own chord voicings and a lyrical yet swinging style… A strong start to a significant career.”
  • “In addition, there is a full album of previously unreleased music: an alternate take of “No Cover, No Minimum,” an unaccompanied version of “Some Other Time” from 1958 and four solo pieces that Evans cut in 1962, his first recordings after the tragic death of his bassist Scott LaFaro.”

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Bill Evans – Everybody Digs Bill Evans

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  • Some of you may have discovered that the original Bill Evans records on Riverside are mostly awful sounding — I can’t recall ever hearing one sound better than mediocre — so we are not the least bit worried that this Hot Stamper pressing won’t beat the pants off of the original, any reissue you may have, and of course the (no doubt awful) Analogue Productions 45
  • “With the unmatched pair of former Miles Davis drummer Philly Joe Jones and bassist Sam Jones (no relation), Evans was emerging not only as an ultra-sensitive player, but as an interpreter of standards second to none.”

The cover has a cut corner, but is otherwise very nice.

These three guys — Sam Jones is on the bass and Philly Joe Jones on the drums — are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their presence on every track — assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one. (more…)