Bill Evans’s poetic piano spoke directly from his soul to the hearts of listeners around the world. Nobody played a ballad more exquisitely than did Evans (1929-1980), who, like trumpeter Miles Davis (his former employer), tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, and singers Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra, seemed to reach inside a melody and distill its very essence. These eleven performances, recorded during Evans’s first golden age, when he truly found his profoundly lyrical voice, were recorded between 1956 and 1963. All but one ("Easy to Love," for solo piano) are trios, with six made by the group Evans led from 1959 to 1961, with the great bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. Together, they reinvented not only the concept of the piano, bass, and drums unit, but of collective improvisation.