Sunday, January 6, 2013

The best jazz trio you'll never see: Bill Evans (p), Scott LeFaro (b) and Paul Motian (drums)

For a few marvelous gigs in 1961 an unduplicatable ESP magic existed between Bill Evans, drummer Paul Motian and bassist Scott LaFaro. A marvelous extended gig at the Village Vanguard resulted in a few amazing LPs of live music. The three men knew they had a rare magic, and then LaFaro died in a car crash ten days after these tracks were recorded. Luckily we still have the tracks.

These are subtle works. Listen with headphones and don't try to understand the melody. Just listen to the interplay of drums, bass, and both hands of Evans on piano. It's so quiet and perfectly interlocked you can almost hear the whispering of an angelic voice inside of it. In fact, since it was recorded live at a club you can hear the clink of dishes and glasses, and the usually respectful low talking of people at tables around the microphones. It's nothing obstrusive, though does indicate the audience is a little distracted at times. Some of these were brunch dates and you get the feeling the audience veers from being totally into it to more concerned with eating than listening. That's natural - it would be hard to focus in on this stuff in a crowded room. As I say it works best alone, ideally in an isolation tank or at least in bed with really good headphones. Lucky for all of mankind, the brunch may be long over but the genius is going on right there in the room with that gone brunch, forever, genius we'll be listening to and appreciating until the end of time. But no video or film of the trio exists. We only have the music.

Evans was so broken up be LaFaro's death he went into isolation and stopped playing for six long months. His later work is good but it's never been quite the same. I completely understand. It's crushing. This is rare magic. So soak it up!


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