The late Bill Evans' singular influence on modern jazz grows with every passing year and leapfrogs with each archival release. Musician and music lovers alike enraptured by his music, such as the authors of the essays accompanying this box set, do not rhapsodize to a fault about it, but rather maintain a healthy perspective on their subject in line with their passion. That approach, in turn, is a direct reflection of the virtues of the pianist's playing and that of his accompanists as documented on Turn Out the Stars.
Anyone who hears the Bill Evans Trio including Scot LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums would be hard-pressed to consider the possibility the frontman would find partners as mutually empathetic and individualized in their own playing, but he surely did in bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe Labarbera. The late pianist took as much inspiration from them as he offered to them when they play "Bill's Hit Tune."
The half-dozen cd's contained in this box set recorded at The Village Vanguard in New York in June 1980 find Evans, Johnson and LaBarbera cycling through a fairly extensive repertoire without any sense of ennui. On the contrary, any given take of "Nardis" or "Days of Wine and Roses" find the threesome rediscovering their individual and collection musicianship, not to mention the material itself.
Bill Evans brought classical elements to his piano playing which infused his improvisations with a formality that focused his ideas. As cerebral as "Autumn Leaves" might become, there remains an equivalent emotional quotient, a depth of feeling he shared with his audience as well as his accompanists--if you can rightly call them that: Johnson and LaBarbera might better be termed peers, at least during those moments they are playing with Evans on "Re: The Person I Knew."
Resonant as are the four nights of performances included in this set, listening to Bill Evans on Turn Out the Stars reminds how vigorous form jazz is. The stellar playing throughout suggests the pinnacle of creativity within the idiom resides in the spirit of the moment onstage.