Ranked time after time as one of the best live jazz recording sessions in history, and yielding two of Evans’ most classic albums (Waltz for Debby, Sunday at the Village Vanguard), The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961 represents the pinnacle of spontaneous musical communication: three men
breathing as one on a tiny bandstand.
This box set is the ultimate collectable item for any jazz fan. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl, this four-LP set comes with a 12-page booklet, complete with new liner notes by reissue producer Bill Belmont, as well as the original liner notes by the producer of the original recordings,Orrin Keepnews. Reproductions of session notes and photographer Steve Schapiro’s proof sheets from the performances add vintage context to the packaging. Also included in the box is a stunning metallic and black poster of the famous cover – Evans, in profile, deep in concentration at his piano.
Everything Bill Evans, Scott LaFaro, and Paul Motian had been working on for the previous 18 months led to this moment on June 25, 1961. The littleknown pianist and his trio performed afternoon and evening sets that Sunday to a small audience that unknowingly sat through what would become a very famous – and final – set by the trio as a whole. The 25-year old LeFaro died tragically in a car accident just ten days later. The performances on these LPs demonstrate a new and more interactive approach to playing as a trio, one in which all instruments carry melodic responsibilities and function as equal voices. Contrapuntal dialogues take place between Evans’s poetic piano and LaFaro’s bass, with Motian’s sustained riveted ride cymbal providing a carpet of stars. These recordings provide something of a sonic time capsule: sequenced in the original order of the five sets; the audience’s murmurings and applause peppered throughout; even an interrupted take is left intact.