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Bill Evans – Waltz For Debby LIVE (London, 1965)

Bill EvansWaltz For Debby LIVE (London, 1965)

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Waltz for Debby is a live album by jazz pianist and composer Bill Evans and his trio consisting of Evans, bassist Scott LaFaro, and drummer Paul Motian. It was released in 1962.

The album was the fourth and final effort from the unit—LaFaro died in a car accident just ten days after the live date at the Village Vanguard from which Waltz for Debby and its predecessor, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, were taken. The loss of LaFaro hit Evans hard, and he went into a brief seclusion. When Evans returned to the trio format later in 1962, it was with Motian and bassist Chuck Israels.

The title track, a musical portrait of Evans’ niece, became a staple of his live repertoire in later years. It originally appeared as a solo piano piece on Evans’ debut album, New Jazz Conceptions. It remains what is likely Evans’ most well-known song,[citation needed] one that he would play throughout his career.

The CD reissue of the album contains several outtakes. The entire day’s recordings were released in 2005 as The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961.

Reception

This album is widely considered to be one of the best in the Evans canon, and the type of emotive interplay between the musicians that at some points seemed almost deconstructed has served as a model for piano trio play.

Writing for AllMusic, music critic Thom Jurek wrote of the album: “While the Sunday at the Village Vanguard album focused on material where LaFaro soloed prominently, this is far more a portrait of the trio on those dates… Of the many recordings Evans issued, the two Vanguard dates and Explorations are the ultimate expressions of his legendary trio.” C. Michael Bailey of All About Jazz wrote “Along with Bassist wunderkind Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, Evans perfected his democratic vision of trio cooperation, where all members performed with perfect empathy and telepathy… It is these performances, currently available as Sunday at The Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby that comprise the number one best jazz live recording in this present series.”

It was voted number 465 in the third edition of Colin Larkin‘s All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).

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