Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - Edward Blanco
Legendary jazz pianist Bill Evans has been gone since 1980; nevertheless, his music continues to inspire new generations of young musicians and remains an integral part of jazz history. Live At Art D'Lugoff's Top of The Gate celebrates Evans' memory, capturing the great pianist and his trio performing in the upstairs room - and separate club, called The Top of The Gate - of The Village Gate night club in Greenwich Village, founded by Art D'Lugoff back in 1958. Never released until now, this piece of musical history was made possible because then-22 year-old engineer George Klabin was given permission to record the October 23, 1968 date by Evans' longtime manager, Helen Keane. The Village Gate closed its doors in 1993 and Klabin is now President and founder of the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation, of which the Los Angeles-based Resonance Records label is the centerpiece.
Available in a deluxe two-CD package, Live also includes a 28-page booklet, complete with photographs, liner notes from producer Zev Feldman, Klabin, jazz critic Nat Hentoff and vibraphonist Gary Burton, as well as notes from Puerto Rican bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell - both of whom performed that night as part of the Evans Trio. Another important feature of this outing is how the recording was done. Unlike many live recordings of the past where one microphone was usually the preferred method of capturing a concert, Klabin used three microphones - one for each player - and mixed the concert live, to produce the set's excellent sound quality. ... read more...
Personnel: Bill Evans (piano); Marty Morell (drums).
Audio Mixers: George Klabin; Fran Gala.
Liner Note Authors: Eddie Gomez ; Gary Burton ; George Klabin; Raphael D'Lugoff; Marty Morell; Nat Hentoff; Zev Feldman.
Recording information: Art D'Lugoff's Top Of The Gate, Greenwich Village, NYC (10/23/1968).
Photographers: Fred Seligo; Herb Snitzer; Tom Copi; Jan Persson; Raymond Ross; Timothy Wood; Christopher Rudolph; Marty Morell.
There have been many posthumous releases featuring various Bill Evans trios since the pianist's death in 1980, but Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate is a cut above most of them for several reasons. First, it documents Evans' trio with bassist Eddie Gomez (who had been playing with him since 1966) and drummer Marty Morell in the early weeks of this band's existence. Secondly, the session engineer, George Klabin, got permission from Evans' manager Helen Keane to record the performances for his radio show, and though he didn't get an opportunity to do a soundcheck prior to the start of the gig, his excellent mike placement and adjustments on the fly capture the intimacy of the trio, without distortion and with very little chatter from the often noisy Manhattan crowds of the late '60s. Finally, the interpretations of several of the songs, all known to fans familiar with Evans' repertoire, in several cases represent an early live trio recording or one of the earliest recordings of certain songs. The fact that the trio was new matters little, the chemistry developed quickly between the three musicians as a unit and Evans is buoyed by Gomez's inventive basslines (it's little wonder he remained with the pianist for over 11 years), and Morell's light touch on drums and subtle brushwork. Several of the numbers are repeated in both sets, including driving takes of "Yesterdays," melodically rich treatments of "'Round Midnight," and two buoyant renditions of "Emily." Evans' fans will delight in his introspective, somewhat disguised arrangement of "California, Here I Come," the dazzling workout of "Autumn Leaves," and the magical romp through "Someday My Prince Will Come." If the music isn't enough, the detailed liner notes as to how the recordings came to be made, along with commentary by Nat Hentoff, Gary Burton, Eddie Gomez, Marty Morell, and others, in addition to period photographs of the artists and the club's interior, make it a complete package, not some carelessly packaged collection of previously unknown performances. One can only hope that Resonance label owner George Klabin recorded many other shows at the Top of the Gate and is able to gain the rights to issue them. This two-CD set will be considered essential by Bill Evans collectors. ~ Ken Dryden
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