By Ric Bang
Buy CD: A Night at the Village Vanguard
I won’t make the same mistake with Bill Carrothers and his trio that I made years ago with pianist Bill Evans!
At that time, I was so immersed in big band jazz — and the arrival of icons such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker — that the superb talent of Evans slipped under my radar. When I finally realized how marvelous the man was, he was near the end of his career. Well, I’m older and wiser, and pianist Bill Carrothers is another such talent.
Small musical groups, usually headed by pianists, are a mainstay in the hundreds of jazz venues that exist in cities throughout the United States and Europe. Carrothers has spent three decades performing in that element of the musical world. He never played with a name band, so he didn’t receive the public exposure that those groups provided; he didn’t have an association with a major record company (as, say, Dave Brubeck did); and he didn’t become part of jazz tours such as those assembled by Norman Granz (as Oscar Peterson did). As a result, appreciation of Carrothers’ talent was limited primarily to his fellow musicians.
That said, it’s difficult to find a name club that hasn’t hosted him.
This double CD presents Carrothers’ Trio — bassist Nicolas Thys and drummer Dre Pallemaerts — performing one night at the famed Village Vanguard. Two complete sets are provided. The first (running close to 70 minutes) includes four jazz standards composed by the famous Clifford Brown; one each from Jimmy Dorsey, Richie Powell and Duke Jordan; two Carrothers originals and a couple of oldies by McHugh/Loesser (“Let’s Get Lost”) and Raskin/Fomin (“Those Were the Days”).
Set 2, roughly the same length, contains four more Carrothers originals; one each from Brown and Powell; Henry Mancini’s “Days of Wine and Roses” and an old standard by Gordon Jenkins (“Blue Evening”).
This marvelous evening of jazz is the next-best thing to having been in the audience. It was Pirouet’s first live recording session, and this is the label’s first double CD. I don’t care how many times you may have heard these standards; Carrothers’ interpretations are fresh. And you won’t get bored during this musical tour de force; whether the approach is grooving, up-tempo or balladic, it’s all wonderful jazz.