Bill Evans

The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961

These five famous sets, recorded over a summer Sunday afternoon and evening 44 years ago, have been released and re-released and considered and reconsidered, but their radiance hasn’t dimmed. It’s especially impressive given the music’s hushed and hidden manner—pianist Bill Evans’ style correctly has been called “introverted,” which should never be confused with unwelcoming. His trio, with Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums, was influential for its extraordinary mutual deference: Evans had no intention of sounding merely like a then-typical soloist atop a rhythm section. For all the skillful flourish, the sessions’ best assets are their warmth and intimacy—well-enhanced by a new remastering of the original tapes. It feels vitally like what it was, a Sunday well-spent.