...the average number of stars should be *five*.
There, that's better.
I'm a huge Bill Evans aficionado, and love his work from every period of his career. The earlyish period of '58-'61, in which this one falls, was undeniably the pinnacle, though, and this LP is, to me, hands-down the definitive Bill Evans studio album. This same band's work on the Village Vanguard recordings (captured on _Sunday at the Village Vanguard_ and _Waltz for Debby_) actually surpasses _Explorations_, I think, but as a regular studio LP, this one should be duly recognized as one of those absolutely perfect jazz albums, in company with such as Miles Davis' _Kind of Blue_, John Coltrane's _Giant Steps_, and Wayne Shorter's _Speak No Evil_.
The sound quality is crystalline, the playing flawless yet soulful, and on top of all that, it's the classic trio with LaFaro and Motian. The track selection just couldn't be improved upon: there's the melodic drive of tunes that sound like they were written for Bill Evans like "Israel" and "Nardis," ravishing ballads like "Haunted Heart" and "Elsa," and more playful tunes like "Beautiful Love" and "The Boy Next Door." You get the whole spectrum of Evans' magic here. Hopefully you already know of the transcendant musical genius of Bill Evans' piano artistry, and if you're looking for where to start or what's essential, let me just say this: this is *it*.