Bill Evans is one of jazz’s great successes and great tragedies. All at the same time. Even if you take it all together, there’s almost never a single moment in his life in which he’s not both, he always had so much going on in both directions. He’s his own Hamlet.
Fortunately for us and for jazz, he left us with all the good things, including “Waltz for Debby,” seen here on a Jazz 625 performance that I’ve probably posted before but which bears repeating. It’s not one of the best versions I’ve heard; he sounds like he’s tripping over his own fingers in the introduction, not as clear and smooth as he sounds on the Cannonball collaboration. The quickened pace is so lively and fun, though.
It’s always worth repeating that Chuck Israels was — is (he’s 75 now, which makes him 28 here, although he looks 12) — an excellent bass player in his own right and didn’t deserve the comparisons he got for immediately following Scott LaFaro in the chronology. As Humphrey Lyttleton (yes, ISIHAC fans, our very own Humph) put it when presenting this very edition of Jazz 625, he is “a superb technician who handles the double bass as if it was a guitar. Chuck Israels is one of the reasons why musicians have come reeling away from performances by the Bill Evans Trio in a mood poised between elation and utter despair.”