Bill Evans Trio – Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside/Craft)
You’ve never heard this album sound this good
When you make a list of the greatest jazz albums of all time, this needs to be on it. Just issued by Craft Recordings as part of their newly-resurrected Original Jazz Classics series, Sunday at the Village Vanguard has never sounded better.
I have a recent, but standard pressing from Fantasy Records that sounds ok. That is, until you compare it to this new OJC version. In every possible way, this new version is far superior. While the music on the original sounds good – this new version immerses you. Scott LaFaro’s bass is rich, deep, and his fingers click on the neck, while Paul Motian’s drums are crisp, and the warmth coming off the keys of Bill Evans’ piano is amazing.
This was the first of two albums culled from the trio’s performances on June 25, 1961, just ten days before LaFaro was tragically killed in an auto accident. The second set, Waltz For Debby, we already raved about here. This album was meant as a showcase for the late bassist, so there’s lots of room for him to stretch out. No band had ever had this much freedom between all three members – it truly was a three-way conversation.
As LaFaro is pouring his soul into these dazzling solos, you can clearly hear people having a conversation. We can forgive them for not realizing that they were witnessing a fleeting moment of sheer greatness. But, that’s how phenomenal this vinyl sounds – you literally hear things you’ve never heard before.
You do not have to have great ears to tell the difference. It’s just that good. Sure, this copy is going to probably cost you about double what your standard version would….and, it’s 100 percent worth the price.
I noticed that the mastering job is different as well. While my standard copy segues quickly between tracks, there are pauses between tracks here.
Even the cover art gets a badly-needed overhaul. Comparing my repressing to the new OJC, my version looks like a bad Xerox copy – strictly black and white, while this new one has a rich, grayish brown hue.
The job the team at Craft Recordings is doing with these Original Jazz Classics albums is very impressive. Finally albums that truly take advantage of the analog format. You will not be disappointed. —Tony Peters