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Bill Evans, one of the most famous jazz pianists of the 20th century, formed in 1959 an acclaimed piano trio of bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. Evans's focus in the Bill Evans Trio settled on traditional jazz standards and original compositions, with an added emphasis on interplay among the band members that often bordered on collective improvisation and blurred the line between soloist and accompanist. This trio recorded four albums: Portrait in Jazz (1959), Explorations, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, and Waltz for Debby (all recorded in 1961). The latter two albums are live recordings drawn from the same recording date, and they are routinely named among the greatest jazz recordings of all time. The trio changed due to LaFaro's untimely death and throughout its existence members retired and were replaced, with only Bill Evans remaining as a constant.

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