Johanna's Visions

a music site

Today: Bill Evans passed away in 1980 – 32 years ago

“My creed for art in general is that it should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise…a part of yourself you never knew existed.”
~Bill Evans

“To the person who uses music as a medium for the expression of ideas, feelings, images, or what have you; anything which facilitates this expression is properly his instrument.”
~Bill Evans

From Wikipedia:

Birth name William John Evans
Also known as Bill Evans
Born August 16, 1929
Plainfield, New Jersey, United States
Died September 15, 1980 (aged 51)
Fort Lee, New Jersey, United States
Genres Jazz, modal jazz, Third stream,Cool jazz, Post-bop
Occupations Pianist
Composer
Arranger
Instruments Piano
Years active 1950s–1980
Labels Riverside, Verve, Fantasy
Associated acts George RussellMiles Davis,Cannonball AdderleyPhilly Joe JonesScott LaFaroPaul MotianEddie GomezMarty MorellTony BennettJim Hall,Monica Zetterlund

William John Evans, known as Bill Evans (August 16, 1929 – September 15, 1980), was an American jazz pianist and composer who mostly worked in a trio setting.

Evans’s use of impressionist harmony, inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, block chords, and trademark rhythmically independent, “singing” melodic lines influenced a generation of pianists; he was considered by some to be the most influential post-World War II jazz pianist. Unlike many other jazz musicians of his time, Evans never embraced new movements like jazz fusion or free jazz.

“Perhaps it is a peculiarity of mine that despite the fact that I am a professional performer, it is true that I have always preferred playing without an audience.
~Bill Evans

Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, Evans was classically trained, and studied at Southeastern Louisiana University.

“I went through a lot of mental pains and anguish about choosing between jazz and classical. I realized that where I functioned was where I should be, and where I functioned was in jazz, so that was it.”
~Bill Evans

In 1955, he moved to New York, where he worked with bandleader and theorist George Russell. In 1958, Evans joined Miles Davis‘s sextet, where he was to have a profound influence. In 1959, then immersed in modal jazz, he recorded Kind of Blue, the best-selling jazz album of all time.

Bill had this quiet fire that I loved on piano.
The way he approached it, the sound he got was like
crystal notes or sparkling water cascading down
from some clear waterfall. I had to change the way
the band sounded again for Bill’s style by playing
different tunes, softer ones at first.
~Miles Davis

In late 1959, Evans left the Miles Davis band and began his career as a leader with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, a group now regarded as a seminal modern jazz trio. In 1961, ten days after recording the highly acclaimed Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby, LaFaro died in a car accident. After months of seclusion, Evans re-emerged with a new trio, featuring bassist Chuck Israels.

In 1963, Evans recorded Conversations with Myself, an innovative solo album using the unconventional (in jazz solo recordings) technique of overdubbing over himself. In 1966, he met bassist Eddie Gomez, with whom he would work for eleven years. Several successful albums followed, such as Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz FestivalAlone and The Bill Evans Album, among others. In 1973, he married Nenette Zazzarra, with whom he had a son, Evan. The younger Evans would become a film composer.

Despite his success as a jazz artist, Evans’ suffered personal loss and struggled with drug abuse. Both his girlfriend Elaine and his brother Harry committed suicide, and he was a long time heroin user, and later cocaine. As a result, his financial stability, personal relationships and musical creativity suffered until his death, in 1980.

Many of his compositions, such as “Waltz for Debby“, have been become standards and have been played and recorded by many artists. Evans was honored with 31 Grammy nominations and seven awards, and was inducted in the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.

Waltz for Debby:

My Foolish Heart:

Album of the day – Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961):

Other September 15:

  • Roy Claxton Acuff (September 15, 1903 – November 23, 1992) was an American country music singer, fiddler, and promoter. Known as the “King of Country Music,” Acuff is often credited with moving the genre from its early string band and “hoedown” format to the star singer-based format that helped make it internationally successful.
  • Julian Edwin “Cannonball” Adderley (September 15, 1928 – August 8, 1975) was a jazz alto saxophonist of the hard bop era of the 1950s and 1960s.Adderley is remembered for his 1966 single “Mercy Mercy Mercy“, a crossover hit on the pop charts, and for his work with trumpeter Miles Davis, including on the epochal album Kind of Blue (1959). He was the brother of jazz cornetist Nat Adderley, a longtime member of his band.


    -
  • Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, or simply Otis Blue, is the third studio album by soul singer Otis Redding, released September 15, 1965 on Stax Records. “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” was originally recorded and released as a mono single in April 1965 whilst the rest of Otis Blue was recorded in a 24-hour period over July 9/10, and mainly features cover songs by popular R&B and soul artists. Two other original songs, “Ole Man Trouble” and “Respect”, were written during the sessions in the Stax Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.

- Egil

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for posting. I think I speak for most young jazz pianists when I say Bill Evans is pretty much a superhero in musical terms. Sunday at the Village is for me, without a doubt, one of the greatest albums of all time.

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