While I am meeting deadlines for writing that pays even more than Rifftides, why not have reader Marc Myers guide us to a fascinating video. He writes:
Talk about one of those video clips that just stops you cold: Go here and dig Monica Zetterlund and Bill Evans on “Waltz for Debby.”
This must have been a run-through for the record date. For my money, this is the definitive “Debby.” It’s brighter and more lyrical than the Vanguard sessions. And as you will see, Monica and Bill are both instantly absorbed by the moment–but in very different ways. Monica seems overwhelmed and somewhat stunned by the sheer beauty of Bill’s playing. Bill appears to be both distracted and in love with the sound of Monica’s interpretation–so much so that he turns away to fully absorb it. Watch Monica’s facial expressions and twitches as she milks the beauty of this song. And who knew Bill dug cigars?
Two interesting moments: About halfway through, Monica either forgets the words or is fooled by Bill’s comping–but still manages to work her way out of it smoothly. Also, the midsection where Bill transitions from straight 3/4 time to a swinging waltz, it’s hard to tell if this was Monica’s idea, signaling Bill that she was comfortable enough to handle the improv, or Bill’s “chart.” I always thought from the recording that this transition was Bill’s doing. Now I’m not so sure. Fascinating.
At the end, it’s hard to tell if Bill was displeased by Monica’s quasi-casual treatment or blown away by it. And when it’s over, both seem to want each other’s praise but neither gives it up. But Bill’s definitely moved. At any rate, there’s a whole lot going on here. What was Bill’s impression of Monica? Did he take her seriously?
Unfortunately, we won’t have the answers to those questions from them. They’re both gone. It seems unlikely that this was a rehearsal for the album. Eddie Gomez is the bassist in the video clip. Chuck Israels, who preceded Gomez in the trio, played bass on the album, which was recorded in 1964. Larry Bunker was the drummer. Gomez joined Evans in 1966. We don’t see the drummer in the YouTube video. Nor is he identified.
The record date to which Mr. Myers refers resulted in this album, which seems to be available singly only as an import. It is also part of the eighteen-CD box set The Complete Bill Evans on Verve. That is the wonderful collection infamous for its packaging–a rusty steel box containing another rusty steel box with swing-out sleeves holding the CDs. Verve should have offered a tetanus shot with each one. The Vanguard sessions are the famous Sunday at the Village Vanguard, a sublime live recording of the 1961 Evans trio with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian .