Bill Evans Trio – Trio ’65 – Verve Records

by | Oct 13, 2022 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Bill Evans Trio – Trio ’65 – Verve Records (1965)/Universal Music Group (2022) B0033124-01 [Acoustic Sounds Series] 180-gram stereo vinyl, 37:29 ****1/2:

(Bill Evans – piano; Larry Bunker – drums; Chuck Israels – double bass)

From his early collaboration with Miles Davis in modal jazz, to his compositional acuity, Bill Evans forged a legendary career in the world of jazz. Many of his fans contend that his greatest musical legacy was as a member of a trio. From 1956-1980, he was involved with various trios with double bassists and drummers. While none of the ensembles recreated the 1960-1961 grouping with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, the subsequent catalogue of work is stellar. Evans was renowned for instrumental chemistry, and the music has maintained its relevance for decades. 

Verve/Universal Music Group has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of Trio ’65 (originally on Verve). With a new trio (Larry Bunker/drums; Chuck Israels/double bass), Evans remains in exemplary form. Side One opens with “Israel”, introduced by Miles Davis on Birth Of The Cool, and covered on the 1961 Evans album Explorations. The trio is immediately in medium swing mode with Evans gliding across the keys. He appears energized by his new band members. Israels delivers a silky double bass solo, then Evans exchanges with several Bunker drum fills. Another Explorations number, “Elsa” assimilates the gentle waltz-time finesse of Evans with familiar ethereal shading. But at 1:33 there is a subtle tempo uptick that adds some muscle to the arrangement. Evans manages rhythmic variations seamlessly with moments of lyrical beauty. The pianist revisits Thelonious Monk’s standard “‘Round Midnight”. His phrasing and articulation is complex and has syncopation. The trio takes their time exploring the nuances of the melody with another Israels solo. There are a variety of motifs in the piano runs. Many of the selections have been recorded more than once by Evans. “Our Love Is Here To Stay” is one of the finest examples of Gershwin jazz interpretation. Without losing the melodic structure, the trio injects finger-snapping cool aesthetics to this version.

Portrait Bill Evans by Steve Shapiro, 1961

Bill Evans, 1961
by Steve Shapiro

Side Two takes on a second Earl Zindars composition, “How My Heart Sings” with a spirited, flexible 3/4 time signature. Evans is more aggressive and delivers a forceful performance in under three minutes. Evans shifts the mood to melancholy on the Bricusse/Newley Broadway and pop hit, “Who Can I Turn To”. He distills the melodic essence, adding a relaxed jaunty resonance. Bunker and Israels are in lockstep, and the group seems like they’ve been playing together for years. The final two cuts are a study in interpretation contrasts. “Come Rain Or Come Shine” begins with a  classic Evans intro that flows like a reverie before the groove takes over. Evans’ mastery of timing and chord manipulation is palpable and the musicians exhibit impressive chemistry on this iconic jazz torch song. Todd Dameron’s unforgettable “If You Could See Me Now” (written specifically for Sarah Vaughan) has an arrangement that fits nicely into the album’s musical style. Evans kicks it off with trademark hushed elegance before the trio moves it along. There are several Evans piano interludes that are ruminative and inventive. 

Kudos to UMG for this upgraded 180-gram vinyl of Trio ’65. The sound mix by Ryan Smith (Sterling Sound) is centered with the sonic focus on the piano. Plastic disc sleeves, glossy gatefold and a plastic outer covering enhance the quality of this reissue. Both jazz aficionados and vinyl enthusiasts will be pleased with this addition to their collection.   

Side One: Israel; Elsa; ‘Round Midnight; Our Love Is Here To Stay
Side Two: How My Heart Sings; Who Can I Turn To; Come Rain Or Come Shine; If You Could See Me Now.  

—Robbie Gerson

More information available at Acoustic Sounds:

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Album Cover for Bill Evans Trio '65

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