|1. Gloria's Step|
|2. Gloria's Step|
|3. My Man's Gone Now|
|5. Alice in Wonderland|
|6. Alice in Wonderland|
|7. All of You|
|8. All of You|
|9. Jade Visions|
|10. Jade Visions|
"Village Vanguard", NYC, soiree 3, June 25, 1961
"In the spring of 1961, since the trio was going strong, they decided to risk a live album, notwithstanding all the technical problems associated with this type of recording, which was not so common a practice at that time. The planned date was Sunday, June 25th, the last day of a two-week gig at the Village Vanguard. The trio played five sets that day, two in the afternoon between 4.30 and 6.30, and three in the evening, starting at 9.30. A total of thirteen pieces were recorded, five of which only once, others twice, and only a couple (Gloria's Step and All Of You) three times. Some selections had never been recorded by the trio before; another (LaFaro's Jade Visions), turned into a sort of "public rehearsal". Finally, My Romance and Waltz For Debby, which Evans had recorded unaccompanied on his debut album, were re-packaged for the trio setting.
The trio reached an apex here that they had been working towards for a couple of years. In one of those coincidences not infrequent in the history of jazz, all three seem to be arriving simultaneously at a ripening of their respective and different talents. Their individual creativity and musicality has peaked, the desire and capacity of each to enter the musical spirit of the other, giving birth to a musical miracle.
Although the concert takes place before an audience, the three seem to interact exclusively among themselves and relate only to the music. This contributes to the almost palpable, breath-taking density of these recordings where the musicians follow their itinerary of pure, almost merciless honesty. In the background you hear the chatter and laughter of the audience, but the trio pays no heed. Each of them is totally concentrated on his own sound while carefully listening to that of the others: the inner mechanism of the trio has been carried to its perfect balance. Each of the three completes a little revolution, My Foolish Heart (which Evans records for the first time here) being an excellent example. Here only the melody is played, but the calm sense of humble and participant singing with which Evans interprets Young's song is exalted by the parsimonious interventions of LaFaro, whose profound and resonant notes seem to anxiously await the melody in astonishment, and to dialogue with it. This performance is permeated with the sense of the yet-to-be-discovered, an unknown dimension in which Motian’s role is decisive; in fact, he plays with the melody, making of the delicate contact between his brushes and cymbals emotionally meaningful interjections that closely follow the "little story in music" that Evans is telling.
LaFaro's true creative stature begins to come out on My Romance. In December of the previous year the 25-year-old bass player had played on Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz. It was probably that contact to finally assuage his uncertainties about trying out harmonic and rhythmic paths more unconventional than those of recent trends. He literally explodes in Solar, which is, from every point of view, the most innovative result of this historic occasion, After an opening where LaFaro follows in the steps of the melody Evans is playing, the latter begins to improvise an octave-doubled single line. Echoes of Tristano reemerge, but what is most remarkable is that beneath him LaFaro, picks up the theme and gradually exploits some of its chromatic fragments. The bass seems to go off on its own, ignoring the piano and drums, as he hazards some sharp intervals, clambering up harmonies far away from the basic one, with each of the three keeping an eye on the structure of the piece while doing his own thing. Evans contributes to making Davis' piece dramatic by his insistent drilling of its motivic cell, which he extrapolates and makes into the germinating cell of another, extemporaneously composed line. The number ends in a very open and completely unconventional way for the time, after a 12-bar Motian/Evans "trade" in which the pianist boosts the volume of his chord voicing to deal with the increasing sound impact of the drums. This ending seems to pose a question: What comes next? or even What has just happened? It seems to say: "these were only a few of the possibilities that we could have explored; and we'll surely go looking for others next time ….”
Two of the selections played on that very special Sunday at the Village Vanguard [3RCD-4443-2]were LaFaro's contributions, both deviating from the prevailing compositional habits: Jade Visions, which alternates 4/4 and 5/4 meters, and Gloria’s Step, a theme whose first section unfolds over 5 bars. Here he ventures into a very audacious solo, letting the phrasing of his bass "fly' into a vigorous monologue bursting with the desire to go beyond. His instrumental skills are astonishing, he pushes them to the edge, not for mere virtuosity's sake, but in order to have available the widest possible range of sound and tone contrasts (low notes of the instrument responding to high ones, for instance).
LaFaro is the real co-protagonist of this historical recording. His relationship with Evans is telepathic. He inserts himself naturally among the piano's silences and breaths, almost always stubbornly refusing to ‘walk’ as the majority of his colleagues did in those days. Even in All Of You, where he could do it, he breaks up the tempo, thus creating a contrast with Motian. Observing these performances a bit more closely, it is clear that some of the material has to do with Miles Davis, both because they use two of his compositions (Solar and Milestones) and because of some important performances of his (All Of You and Gershwin's My Man’s Gone Now and I Loves You Porgy). All of which is understandable given Evans’ recent association with the trumpeter.
Evans plays My Foolish Heart in A major, a key generally considered “awkward" (it is very probable that LaFaro was no stranger to the choice of this key as a way to exploit the open strings of the bass); and My Man’s Gone Now, which the pianist "sings" with deep nostalgic participation, is played in E minor, the same key as his favorite Nardis - both of which keys Evans would claim to love playing in. Their awkwardness, in reality, could help avoid “mechanical" improvisation, since a less common key forces the ear into the highest concentration. On the other hand a piece played in an easier or more common key could encourage a sort of repetitive automatism that counts on what the hands “already know". We find an illustration of this in Alice In Wonderland where LaFaro seems to be suffering for the rather banal and obvious character of the piece."
(Bill Evans: Ritratto d’artista con pianoforte/Bill Evans: The Pianist as an Artist.Enrico Pieranunzi, Rome 1999, Stampa Alternativa)(thanks http://jazzprofiles.blogspot.com !!!)