Sunday at the Village Vanguard: The Music of the Bill Evans Trio
When reflecting on the music that has influenced innumerable musicians and me, you will not find a better example than Bill Evans’ Sunday at the Village Vanguard from 1961. I often think about the people there that night and the musicians when I listen to this. I am sure married couples were fighting or talking about how great or awful their food was, the music not their primary focus. Perhaps there were people on first dates or married couples cheating on their spouses who forgot about this seminal event the moment they walked out of the Village Vanguard at the end of the night, never to reflect upon it again. Many events that shaped America’s history, like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the assassination of JFK, had not yet occurred. The Vietnam War was in its infancy, as was the civil rights movement. In any case, it is safe to say that no one, not even Bill Evans, Scott LaFaro, and Paul Motian, the musicians that performed on this recording, ever expected that musical history was about to be made on this night. Everything sacred in music, particularly jazz, is displayed here: interplay, restraint, dynamics, and a musical sophistication and harmonic sensibility hitherto unknown. These days, we use the word genius far too often and without good reason. Genius and understated virtuosity are displayed throughout this recording. As a musician, I reflect on this music quite often. In these times of Instagram mediocrity, I often forget why I became a musician so long ago. This music is a reminder. It is also a reminder that no matter how hopeless things seem in the world and their personal lives, true artists and creative souls are undaunted and focused on creating something of beauty that will endure. We should be grateful. Thanks, Bill. Scott and Paul.