"At Town Hall"
Bill Evans, piano
Chuck Israels, bass
Arnie Wise, drums
at Town Hall, NYC February 21, 1966
CD review by Jan Stevens, webmaster
On February 21, 1966 Bill
Evans was presented in concert in New York City, performing solo,
with trio and with big band. This release was called "Volume
One" when originally released on LP; presumably a "Volume
Two" was intended for release but never materialized. Bill and
his manger and producer Helen Keane were never happy with the results
of the larger Al Cohn-lead ensemble recorded that day, and that particular
portion of the concert is apparently lost to history. (see Pettinger's
All in all, I'd consider
this the high point of any Bill Evans trio date in his' years as a
Verve recording artist in the mid-1960s. The only 'official' release
of the trio with drummer Arnold Wise, (who otherwise only appears
on a few "Secret Sessions" tracks) they sound unusually
upbeat, very tight as a group, and Bill is in top form here. It's
also bassist Chuck Israels' last recorded appearance with the regular
trio . Another good reason to buy the CD however, may just be the
extended solo performance segment, dedicated to his father, who had
just passed away. (After hearing the bad news, and some time spent
in Florida, Bill returned and decided to do the concert, after all,
despite Helen Keane's recommendation that he take some more time off.)
For this medley, he plays his own compositions, "Story Line"
-- a reworked "Re: Person I Knew", one of the best versions
of" Turn Out the Stars" -- the very FIRST one, this arrangementis
transcribed in a few Evans music books -- and the haunting and impressionistic
and "Prologue" and "Epilogue" open and close the
medley. It's a heartfelt and inspired performance, and often talked
about among Evans fans.
The pianist's versions
of "Who Can I Turn To" and "I Should Care", just
to name two, are among the best -known jazz treatments of these now-standards.
Pianist Herbie Hancock (a jazz legend himself) personally selected
this live "I Should Care" to be part of his hand-picked
Evans favorites (from the Verve catalog) for the CD "Ultimate
Bill Evans" (Verve 314 557 536-2), calling it in his liner notes:
"a good example of the way Bill could articulate a melody and
then build variations from it".
Bill Evans virtually
defined jazz piano in the sixties and beyond, and this is one of the
best examples from the middle period in his career. As opposed to
a number of his other Verve releases, the piano sound is superb --
for that time period, and you can hear all the interplay, the fun,
and the fierce concentration of these guys beautifully recorded and
nicely balanced. "Town Hall" remains one of the stronger
entries in the Verve label's Bill Evans catalog. This trio swings
and the whole performance is a real delight.
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