Collection Features Hitherto Unheard Performances from the Pianist’s First European Tour in 1964, Featuring Bassist Chuck Israels and Drummer Larry Bunker

Also Due as a CD in December, Set is 11th Package of Unissued Music Authorized by the Bill Evans Estate and Produced by “Jazz Detective” Zev Feldman

Tales, a scintillating set of hitherto unissued music by Bill Evans, recorded in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the master jazz pianist’s first European tour in 1964, will be presented by Elemental Music as its RSD Black Friday release on November 24.

The collection — recorded by Evans, bassist Chuck Israels, and drummer Larry Bunker in Danish radio’s Radiohuset studio and TV-BYEN (TV City) on August 10 and 25, 1964, respectively — will arrive as a limited edition 180-gram vinyl LP, mastered by the legendary Bernie Grundman, as an RSD Black Friday exclusive. A CD edition including all of the annotation and rare photographs in the LP set, will be released on December 1.

The album will include liner notes by Evans scholar Marc Meyers and new interviews with Israels and Bunker’s widow Brandyn Bunker.

Tales is the 11th package of previously unreleased Evans material produced by Zev Feldman, the award-winning “Jazz Detective,” in partnership with Elemental’s Carlos Agustin Camembert and Jordi Soley, and fully authorized by the Bill Evans Estate. It is a sequel to Elemental Music’s previous collection Treasures, a widely praised set of 1965-69 Evans recordings made in Denmark in trio, solo, and orchestral settings that the label produced for Record Store Day this April.

Feldman says in his introduction to the album, “These 11 tracks are glorious, a gift for all of us to relish these many decades after Bill’s physical departure from this earth. It’s thrilling for me to see these recordings come out, extending a welcoming hand to jazz fans who are just exploring Bill Evans’s music for the first time. Tales is a wonderful document that captures the spirit, essence, and beauty of what Bill Evans was all about.”

The album — six tracks cut in a studio setting at Radiohuset and five captured before an audience at TV City — feature Evans’ 1964-65 trio of Israels, who was hired by the pianist to replace Scott LaFaro following his tragic death in a 1961 car crash, and Bunker, who joined the group permanently after Paul Motion’s departure from the group after a December 1963 studio date.

Bill Evans
Bill Evans 1964 (c) Jan Persson (CTSIMAGES)

In his detailed notes, Myers notes that the material on Tales is “the earliest known recording of Bill Evans performing in Europe. Recorded in the summer of 1964 during his first tour abroad with a trio…these tracks also are remarkable for being among the very finest work by this ensemble. There’s even a standard [“I Didn’t Know What Time It Was”] that was recorded for the first time and never appeared in the Evans discography again.”

Myers says that Evans hit upon a combination with his new rhythm players that reprised the breathtakingly simpatico interplay of his most famous trio of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s: “Ever since he formed his first working trio in 1959 with Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motion on drums, Evans was determined to have all members of his group converse musically as peers within the structure of songs….[Evans, Israels and Bunker] play as if they were a single emotional expression. Their musical exchanges are bright and bouncy, performing flawlessly and organically together and during solos.

In his interview with Feldman, Israels reflects on the unique experience of playing with jazz’s great lyrical master: “I was just so glad to be part of Bill’s musical design: the texture of how that trio worked; how Bill planned the music; how he set it up so that you could fit yourself in with personal expression and freedom to find nuances and details that occurred to you…There have been few musical circumstances — maybe not any — that have felt like playing in the trio, especially with Larry.”

He also praises the sound of his mid-‘60s band mate: “Larry Bunker was an extraordinary musician. There was a transparency to the sound of Larry’s playing. Larry was like a race car driver in terms of finesse. He was a very well-trained musician with impeccable hearing. He understood everything going on more than I did.”

Brandyn Bunker notes to Feldman that her husband, who died in 2005, was a versatile player who sported talents that extended beyond jazz to work with pop music stars, on film scores, and with classical orchestras.

“Larry was able to adapt to practically any musical situation,” she says. “What allowed him to be such an essential participant in world-class music across all these genres was his perception and musical sensitivity, his ability to adapt to whatever was required, to fulfill that and then to bring even more of himself creatively to whatever was asked of him.”

Summarizing this latest revelatory entry in the Evans catalog, Israels says, “These recordings are really satisfying to me because I hear us at a level of comfort and understanding of what we’re doing. That brings a great deal of freedom and expressive possibilities. We could skirt danger a little closer because we knew we had a grip on these things. There’s a lot of risk that only comes when you’re confident you’ll be able to ski within the slalom gates. You’ll get close to the edge, but you won’t miss the gate.”

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