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VINE VOICEon 13 November 2001
This is one of two albums taken from the same concert, (the other being 'Sunday at the Village Vanguard')in 1961, featuring Evans with his most famous trio with Scott Lafaro and Paul Motian. It is a remarkable set, particularly the selections featured on this album, and the music is made all the more poignant by the fact that Lafaro died a matter of days later in a road accident.
As a bass player, Lafaro was more than just a background accompaniment to provide a platform for Evans' improvisations; this was a revolutionary group in that pianist and bassist improvised together and the results here are extraordinary. Evans' own playing is both beautiful and adventurous, almost mesmerising at times in his flowing melody lines, but Lafaro is with him every step of the way responding to ideas with an almost harp like quality to his playing at times. The two clearly had an almost telepathic understanding. It is hard to pick highlights as all six tracks are excellent, but I will mention four. 'My Foolish Heart'is an aching starkly tender piece featuring some lovely interplay between Evans and Lafaro; 'Waltz for Debby' features concerto like playing from Evans; 'Milestones' offers a very different but equally effective interpretation of the Miles Davis classic; and 'Some Other Time' is quite simply exquisite.
Despite the technical excellence and significance of this work, it is not at all difficult to listen to. Evans is as always lyrical and melodic, without ever being in danger of blandness or mere sentimentality. So whether you are a jazz pianist, a Bill Evans fan, a music student or just a fan of beautiful music, then this comes highly recommended.
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on 24 March 2008
I got this album for 5 pounds in FOPP - before you shell out £26!

So there are 4 instruments on this album - the piano, a double bass, a drum kit, and the audience participation - applause, drinks clinking, chat etc. I'm always surprised that there was so much talking going on, while they played, as I'm constantly mesmerised by the skill and creativity of the trio. But of course, this is a New York jazz club! Surely the guys are showing off to the girls, and using the music as the most wonderful backdrop.

The songs are all relatively slow, with a slight tinge of melancholy. There are 2 takes each of Waltz for Debby, Detour Ahead, My Romance, not a problem as each version goes off in a different direction, with bass and piano exchanging solos in a very "off the cuff" way. The intricacy of the dove-tailing between the players is extraordinary, surely communication has reached a new level between these three, it is more telepathy than anything else...

This is such an evocative album. I always imagine myself in a New York taxicab, under the streetlights and a fine misty rain. Or another image is a lit stage, with the audience enjoying drinks at round tables in darkness... Bill Evans sort of bent over his piano, like an old gardener tending a beautiful flower, and extracting such pleasing cadences and thrilling melodic lines, all underscored by high-hat rhythms and bass licks... For me, it is the way the playing is so excellent, but this excellence is put to the service of creating a mood and emotion, without any showboating, that makes this album something I return to very regularly.

The wonderful version of the Gershwin song "I Loves You, Porgy" rounds off the set.
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on 7 April 2005
I bought this record because it was referred to in a book and I immediately fell in love with it. I just can't stop playing it over and over again. The song "Waltz for Debbie" is probably the most beautiful jazz song ever made and a great example of a jazz waltz.
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on 9 February 2014
A fantastic album, but I have to agree with the other reviewer who rated this one star. The piano is far too low in the mix - it almost sounds as if Bill Evans is in the next room. If you're looking for an album for easy listening or introducing friends to jazz then buy it, if you're a fan of Bill Evans, you'll be disappointed by the mix.
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on 4 March 2003
'Waltz for Debby' was one of only four (official) albums made by what Evans fans know as "the first trio" - the one with Scott La Faro and Paul Motian. With 'Sunday at the Village Vanguard' it presents the legendary sessions recorded by the trio at the New York club in June 1961shortly before La Faro's death in a car accident. Devoted Evans fans would regard both albums as essential.
There's a 'complete' Village Vanguard set available. There are also two different CDs which offer selected tracks from the two original albums. In my opinion, the Italian 'Giants of Jazz' version titled 'Waltz for Debby/Village Vanguard'is the better selection, but it's difficult to get hold of and I don't know whether the re-mastering will be as good as on the originals. If you don't know either of the original albums and are cautious about investing in the "complete" edition, I would suggest that 'Waltz for Debby' is the one to buy first. (I should add that I know of three other Bill Evans CDs - two of them, confusingly, on the 'Giants of Jazz' label - which use 'Waltz for Debby' in the title. Don't mistake them for this one.)
The music itself finds Evans in his more introspective, glowingly lyrical form on the slow pieces: "My Foolish Heart", "Detour Ahead", "Some Other Time" and "I Loves You Porgy". The first and last of these are especially moving. Evans's delicacy of touch and tone and his willingness to leave space between his phrases (rather than filling the space with unnecessary decoration, as a fussier pianist would) help to give the music a kind of floating, other-worldly quality which Wordsworth's definition of poetry aptly describes: "emotion recollected in tranquillity". "My Romance" and Evans's "Waltz for Debby" are similarly romantic, tuneful themes, and although they are faster, more overtly swinging numbers, Evans's improvisations are still in a warmly melodic, 'singing' style. The final track is a fascinating re-working of Miles Davis's famous theme, "Milestones" and, although it's the fastest track on the album, Evans's gentle touch and unhurried phrasing at this tempo give the piece a striking blend of intensity and relaxation. But the album is very much a group performance. The close rapport and the sense of collective improvisation which the trio aimed for are very strong in these Vanguard sessions and both La Faro and Motian play with remarkable subtlety and insight.
One of the immediately noticeable features of these Village Vanguard recordings, when you come upon them for the first time, is the constant 'club' background of chattering, laughing diners, tinkling glasses and cutlery, etc. At least once when you listen to the music you will probably wish that remastering technology could completely remove every extraneous noise and give us the music pure and unsullied. Did those people know what was being created in their presence? But for some fans (and for drummer Paul Motian, in an New Yorker article recalling the sessions forty years later) the background noise is part of the attraction of the music, locating it in a particular time and place - one Sunday afternoon and evening in 1961 in a New York jazz club - even if, in another sense, the music is utterly timeless.
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on 12 January 2011
Not sure what the other reviewer has been listening to- "Waltz for Debby" is one half of a live gig at the Village Vanguard with Scott le Faro and Paul Motian... but that's incidental to the fact that this is one of THE great jazz records of all time, the ballad led, reflective companion to "Sunday At The Village Vanguard", one of those complete artworks that creates its own world, superficially sweet and easy but an album that keeps revealing new depths the more you listen to it. Everyone who is remotely interested in jazz should own this- if you bought "Kind Of Blue" wondering what all the fuss was about, this is where to go next
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on 7 December 2004
There are few albums which I would truly regard as timeless classics. In the same league as the likes of "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis, this album includes a livley interpretation of "My Romance" which Evans truly makes his own. One of the more memorable elements of the album is LaFaro's blistering solo on this track which still takes my breath away each time I hear it. The spontaneity and beauty of this album should make it a permanent fixture in any jazz fans CD collection.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 May 2012
If there has been anything better released in the piano jazz trio line, please let me know. It's as intimate a live album as you'll ever hear- beautifully recorded with the warmth of the bass,the liquid tones of the piano and the detailed drum and brush work faithfully captured. Aside from the 'you are in the room feeling',what draws people to this album is the astonishing musicianship and the quality of the material.

This album can be enjoyed on many levels - firstly and most importantly as a sophisticated,relaxed yet readily enjoyable jazz album,rather like 'Kind of Blue'.Every track offers up great playing and very often some truly memorable melodies.Play this album last thing at night for relaxation or at a dinner party for a pleasant musical background or maybe as a backdrop for romance ( if you are lucky!)and you'll find that it works a treat. For students of jazz ( like myself!) who enjoy the sound of brilliant musicians at work,this album is essential listening. It is interesting (not to say humbling)to hear Evans,La Faro and Motian effortlessly playing together,supporting each other and pushing the music forward without ever intruding on each others endeavors. Just listen,for instance to the bitter-sweet melancholia of 'My Foolish Heart' and the equally lovely 'Waltz For Debbie' to hear why this swinging yet sensitive approach to jazz is so appealing.

Even if you think jazz is not for you, try a sample of this album, I think you might be converted. Jazz fans everywhere should own this very special disc. Recommended! If you want one tune to try , have a go with the breathtaking 'Some Other Time',if that doesn't work, give up now!

If you love this album as I do, get the duet albums with Bill Evans and Tony Bennett- they are beautiful and fun in equal measure!
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on 15 March 2013
Bill Evans has a distinctive and generally understated stye of playing, no musical fireworks or grandstanding just beautifully interpreted melodies. With Scott LeFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums this is an extremely talented trio. It is live, but the audience are remarkably restrained and do not impinge on the performance other than polite applause. This was the last time the trio recorded together as LaFaro died in a car accident two weeks later.
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VINE VOICEon 10 November 2003
The record companies have been playing around with this stuff for years. Bassist Scott Le Faro, a very interactive player, was killed shortly after the Bill Evans trio recorded a wonderful set at the Village Vanguard in 1961, and there seemed to be a real chance that Bill Evans was too cut up to work.
We still have two albums - Waltz for Debbie and Sunday at the Village Vanguard - of the concert which are rarely available together (I have Waltz for Debby alongside the completely different Interplay and am always jolted when the second album starts up just after the trio's wonderful take on 'Milestones').
Bottom line is that Waltz for Debbie is an essential jazz record, always hailed by the jazz writers as the beginnings of modern trio playing (and as such also by musicians including Evans' drummer Paul Motian who later played with Keith Jarrett) and, at the same time, beautifully lyrical and charged with feeling.
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