℗ 2017 2xHD - Naxos © 2017 2xHD - Naxos
The album Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate, offers listeners a table at the front of the stage for a stellar performance by one of jazz's greatest trios. It's October 23, 1968 in Greenwich Village,
The lineup that night consisted of three musicians in their prime: Evans, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell. Evans had, reportedly, kicked his drug habit during this period, and this was thought by many to be his most stable and, certainly, longest-lasting group. This trio was together until 1975. Evans is in both swinging and contemplative modes and highlights the trio's superb interaction. Gomez had been with Evans since 1966, while Morell came aboard in 1968; Gomez was a master improviser, while Morell was an energetic, straight-ahead drummer, always keeping the trio on track. Along with the leader, both contribute masterful solos here. The album features two complete sets, including two versions of three songs. There is one original ("Turn Out the Stars"); the rest are jazz standards and familiar show tunes.
Throughout the two sets, Evans showcases his gift for interpreting standards, over the seventeen tracks. "My Funny Valentine" moves effortlessly from tenderness to passion, while "Gone with the Wind" erupts at a breakneck pace and "Here's That Rainy Day" concludes the evening with heart-breaking emotion.
Students of Evans' music will be delighted to see that three pieces ("Emily," "Yesterdays," and "'Round Midnight") are represented in both the first and second sets, offering a rare opportunity to compare the soloists' diverging takes on the same tunes in a single evening. Also, several of the selections possess historic significance: both "My Funny Valentine" and "Here's That Rainy Day" (and possibly "Mother of Earl") mark Evans' first documented trio performances of those songs, while "Here's That Rainy Day" may be the first time Evans recorded that piece period.
Reviews"There have been many posthumous releases featuring various Bill Evans trios since the pianist's death in 1980, but Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate is a cut above most of them for several reasons. First, it documents Evans' trio with bassist Eddie Gomez (who had been playing with him since 1966) and drummer Marty Morell in the early weeks of this band's existence. Secondly, the session engineer, George Klabin, got permission from Evans' manager Helen Keane to record the performances, his excellent mike placement and adjustments on the fly capture the intimacy of the trio, without distortion and with very little chatter from the often noisy Manhattan crowds of the late '60s. Finally, the interpretations of several of the songs, all known to fans familiar with Evans' repertoire, in several cases represent an early live trio recording or one of the earliest recordings of certain songs. The fact that the trio was new matters little, the chemistry developed quickly between the three musicians as a unit and Evans is buoyed by Gomez's inventive basslines (it's little wonder he remained with the pianist for over 11 years), and Morell's light touch on drums and subtle brushwork. Several of the numbers are repeated in both sets, including driving takes of "Yesterdays," melodically rich treatments of "'Round Midnight," and two buoyant renditions of "Emily." Evans' fans will delight in his introspective, somewhat disguised arrangement of "California, Here I Come," the dazzling workout of "Autumn Leaves," and the magical romp through "Someday My Prince Will Come." If the music isn't enough, the detailed liner notes as to how the recordings came to be made, along with commentary by Nat Hentoff, Gary Burton, Eddie Gomez, Marty Morell, and others, in addition to period photographs of the artists and the club's interior, make it a complete package, not some carelessly packaged collection of previously unknown performances. This two-CD set will be considered essential by Bill Evans collectors. "