BILL EVANS (PIANO) — Trio '65 (review)

BILL EVANS (PIANO) — Trio '65 album cover Album · 1965 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Amilisom
The best way to understand what makes this a good Bill Evans album is to compare it with its precursor studio album, "Trio '64" and the change of the lineup.

"Trio '64" was the last studio album with long-time drummer Paul Motian, who had played with Evans since 1959's "Portrait in Jazz". His departure was replaced with Larry Bunker, who had already played with Evans at the Trident Club in the 1964 "Bill Evans Trio Live" album and with Monica Zetterlund in "Waltz for Debby" the same year. As a result this album is the first studio album for the Bill Evans Trio with drummer Larry Bunker, allowing for one to see the contrast between his playing and Paul Motian's.

Larry Bunker is something of a "feisty" drummer. Whereas Motian had a more spacious and laid-back way of playing that contributed to the cool jazz aspect of Bill Evans' playing, Bunker pushes forward and makes energetic grooves that encourage Evans to play quicker and more rhythmically interesting licks. The change is most noticeable in the tune "If You Could See Me Now". Strangely enough, it is the tune on the album that gets the closest to being a ballad. Other tunes, like "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)?", begin sounding like a ballad but quickly change to medium swing when Bunker comes in. In "If You Could See Me Now," Bunker submits, perhaps unwillingly, to the slower ballad style. But while doing so he fidgets around with quick, little fills with his brushes like an impatient child with ADHD. Eventually he succeeds in turning the tune into medium swing and even goes double-time at one point. The overall effect is actually really cool and gives a lot of personality to the music.

In the end I would say Larry Bunker's drumming style well fits Bill Evans' piano style, progressing Bill Evans to newer places in his music that would intrigue those used to hearing the Paul Motian days of the Bill Evans Trio.
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