The 1961 engagement of Bill Evans, Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian at the Village Vanguard is widely considered to be one of the most historic in jazz. This 3-CD set presents all five sets the trio performed in their original order.
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. The performances on these 3 CDs 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. Keepnews recalls in his liner notes that “from the very first moments of the recording, it was impossible to ignore the importance of these performances.”
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 little-known 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 (the 25-year old LeFaro died tragically in a car accident just days later). These recordings provide something of a sonic time capsule: sequenced in the original order of the five sets, the audience’s murmurings and applause are peppered throughout; even an interrupted take is left intact.
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