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Encyclopedia > Bill Evans
Bill Evans

Background information
Birth name William John Evans
Born August 16, 1929(1929-08-16)
Origin Flag of United States Plainfield, New Jersey, USA
Died September 15, 1980 (aged 51)
Genre(s) Jazz, modal jazz, hard bop, Third stream
Occupation(s) Pianist
Composer
Arranger
Instrument(s) Piano
Label(s) Riverside Records
Verve Records
Associated
acts
Miles Davis
Oliver Nelson
Charles Mingus

William John Evans (better known as Bill Evans) (August 16, 1929September 15, 1980) was an American jazz pianist and one of the most famous of the 20th century; he remains one of the major influences on post-1950s jazz piano. His use of impressionist harmony, his inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire and his syncopated and polyrhythmic melodic lines influenced a generation of pianists, including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett, and his work continues to inspire younger pianists such as Fred Hersch, Esbjörn Svensson, Bill Charlap, Geoffrey Keezer, Lyle Mays and many others as well as other musicians such as guitarists Lenny Breau and Pat Metheny. Image File history File links This work is presumed to be copyrighted, but its source has not been determined. ... is the 228th day of the year (229th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1929 (MCMXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... Map of Plainfield in Union County Plainfield is a City in Union County, New Jersey, United States. ... is the 258th day of the year (259th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1980 (MCMLXXX) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1980 Gregorian calendar). ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Modal jazz is jazz played using musical modes rather than chord progressions. ... Hard bop is an extension of bebop (bop) music which incorporates influences from rhythm and blues, gospel music, and blues, especially in the saxophone and piano playing. ... Third Stream music is a term coined in 1957 by Gunther Schuller to describe a musical genre which is a synthesis of classical music and jazz. ... Pianist Claudio Arrau, Carnegie Hall, 1954. ... A composer is a person who writes music. ... A musical instrument is a device constructed or modified with the purpose of making music. ... A short grand piano, with the top up. ... This does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... The Incredible Jazz Guitar Of Wes Montgomery, a 1960 Riverside release. ... Verve Records is an American Jazz record label, founded by Norman Granz in 1956, which absorbed the catalogues of his earlier labels: Norgran Records and Clef Records (founded 1953). ... Miles Dewey Davis III (26 May 1926 – 28 September 1991) was one of the most influential musicians of the latter half of the 20th century. ... Oliver Nelson (1932–1975) was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinettist, and composer. ... Charles Mingus (April 22, 1922 – January 5, 1979), also known as Charlie Mingus, was an American jazz bassist, composer, bandleader, and occasional pianist. ... is the 228th day of the year (229th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1929 (MCMXXIX) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 258th day of the year (259th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1980 (MCMLXXX) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link displays the 1980 Gregorian calendar). ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... Pianist Claudio Arrau, Carnegie Hall, 1954. ... Herbert Jeffrey Hancock (born April 12, 1940) is an Academy Award and multiple Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist and composer from Chicago, Illinois, U.S. Hancock is one of jazz musics most important and influential pianists and composers. ... Armando Anthony Chick Corea (born June 12, 1941) is a multiple Grammy Award winning American jazz pianist/keyboardist and composer. ... Keith Jarrett (born May 8, 1945 in Allentown, Pennsylvania) is an American pianist and composer. ... Fred Hersch (born October 21, 1955 in Cincinnati, Ohio) is a contemporary American jazz pianist who has become a consistent and highly demanded performer on the international jazz scene. ... Esbjörn Svensson Trio (or e. ... William Morrison Charlap is a jazz pianist born October 15, 1966 in New York City. ... Geoffrey Graham Keezer (born November 20, 1970 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin) is a jazz pianist and composer. ... Lyle Mays (born November 27, 1953) is a jazz pianist. ... Lenny Breau (August 5, 1941–August 12, 1984) was a brilliantly innovative American-born Canadian jazz guitarist who brought together country, classical, flamenco and jazz guitar techniques, then merged and developed them into a unique and influential personal style. ... Patrick Bruce Metheny (born August 12, 1954 in Lees Summit, Missouri) is an American jazz guitarist. ...

Contents

Early life

Bill Evans was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, to a mother of Rusyn ancestry and a father of Welsh descent. His father was an alcoholic. He received his first musical training in his mother's church. Rusyns, also called Ruthenians, Ruthenes, Rusins, Carpatho-Rusins, and Russniaks, are a modern group of ethnic groups that speak the Rusyn language and are descended from the minority of Ruthenians who did not adopt a Ukrainian national identity and become Ukrainians in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. ... The Welsh are, according to Hastings (1997), an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language, which is a Celtic language. ...


His mother was also an amateur pianist with in an interest in modern classical composers. This caused his initial musical training to be classical piano at age 6. He also became proficient at the flute by age 13 and could play the violin. Evans was left-handed, which could explain the rich low end in his sound.


At 12, he filled in for his older brother in Buddy Valentino's band. This event is occasionally credited for starting his interest in jazz. In the late 1940s, he played boogie woogie in various New York City clubs. He went on to receive a music scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana University and in 1950 he graduated with a degree in piano performance and teaching. Later, he studied composition at the Mannes College of Music. After some time in the U. S. Army, he worked at dance clubs with jazz clarinetists and guitarists. Boogie woogie has two different meanings: a piano based music style, boogie woogie (music) a dance that imitates the rocknroll of the 50s, boogie woogie (dance) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... Southeastern Louisiana University is a state-funded public university that is located in the city of Hammond, Louisiana. ... Mannes College The New School For Music is a music conservatory located in New York City, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. ... The Army is the branch of the United States armed forces which has primary responsibility for land-based military operations. ...


1950s

Working in New York in the 1950s, Evans gained a profile as a sideman in traditional and so-called Third Stream jazz bands. During this period, he had the opportunity to record in many different contexts with some of the best names in jazz of the time. Recordings made with seminal composer/theoretician George Russell are notable for Evans's solo work, including the famous "All About Rosie." He also recorded notable albums under the leadership of Charles Mingus, Oliver Nelson, and Art Farmer. In 1956, he made his debut album, New Jazz Conceptions, for Riverside Records. Producer Orrin Keepnews was convinced that he should record the reluctant Evans because of a demo tape played to him over the phone by guitarist Mundell Lowe. NY redirects here. ... Third Stream music is a term coined in 1957 by Gunther Schuller to describe a musical genre which is a synthesis of classical music and jazz. ... George Allen Russell (born June 23, 1923) is an American jazz composer and theorist. ... Charles Mingus (April 22, 1922 – January 5, 1979), also known as Charlie Mingus, was an American jazz bassist, composer, bandleader, and occasional pianist. ... Oliver Nelson (1932–1975) was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinettist, and composer. ... Arthur Stewart (Art) Farmer (August 21, 1928 – October 4, 1999), was an American jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player. ... The Incredible Jazz Guitar Of Wes Montgomery, a 1960 Riverside release. ... Orrin Keepnews (born March 2, 1923 in The Bronx, New York City) is an American jazz record producer and writer. ... Mundell Lowe (b. ...


In 1958, Evans was hired as the only white musician in the famed Miles Davis Sextet. Though his time with the band was brief - no more than eight months - it was one of the most fruitful collaborations in the history of jazz, as Evans's introspective scalar approach to improvisation deeply influenced Davis's conception. His desire to pursue his own projects as a leader and increasing problems with drug use led him to leave Davis. However, he returned to the band at Davis's request to record the jazz classic, Kind of Blue. Evans's contribution to the album was overlooked for years; in addition to writing the song "Blue in Green" (credited to Davis), he had also already developed the theme of the track "Flamenco Sketches" on his 1958 recording "Peace Piece" from his album Everybody Digs Bill Evans. By the end of the decade, he had started his own trio. Miles Dewey Davis III (26 May 1926 – 28 September 1991) was one of the most influential musicians of the latter half of the 20th century. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


1960s

At the turn of the decade, Evans led a trio with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. This group has since become one of the most acclaimed piano trios of all time. With this group, Evans's focus settled on traditional jazz standards and original compositions, with an added emphasis on interplay among the band members that often bordered on collective improvisation. The collaboration between Evans and the talented young bassist LaFaro was particularly fruitful, with the two achieving an unprecedented level of musical empathy. The 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, both drawn from the same recording date. In 2005, the full sets were collected on the three-CD set The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961. There is also a lesser-known recording of this trio taken from radio broadcasts in early 1960 called Live at Birdland, though the sound quality is unfortunately poor. Rocco Scott LaFaro (April 3, 1936, Newark, New Jersey - July 6, 1961, Flint, New York) was one of the most influential jazz bassists of the 20th century. ... Stephen Paul Motian (born 25 March 1931 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in Providence, Rhode Island), is a American jazz drummer, percussionist and composer of Armenian extraction. ... Portrait in Jazz is a 1959 (see 1959 in music) album by jazz musician Bill Evans. ... Explorations is a 1961 (see 1961 in music) album by jazz musician Bill Evans. ... Sunday at the Village Vanguard is a 1961 (see 1961 in music) album by jazz musician Bill Evans. ... Waltz for Debby is a 1961 album by Bill Evans. ... The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961, a three-CD box set released in 2005, marks the first time the entire Bill Evans Trios complete sets at the Village Vanguard on June 25, 1961 have been released in their entirety (outside of the twelve-disc set containing Evans complete Riverside...


In addition to revolutionizing the dynamics of the jazz trio, Evans began to display a lower dynamic range in his music. His chordal voicings became more impressionistic, reminiscent of classical composers such as Debussy and Satie, as well as moving away from the thick block chords he often utilized when playing with Davis. His sparse left-hand voicings supported his lyrical right-hand lines, as much a product of the influence of jazz pianist Bud Powell as any classical composer. Claude Debussy Claude Achille Debussy (August 22, 1862 – March 25, 1918), composer of impressionistic classical music. ... Eric Alfred Leslie Satie (born Honfleur, 17 May 1866 – 1 July 1925 in Paris) was a French composer, performing pianist and publicist. ... The Amazing Bud Powell - early LP cover Earl Rudolph Bud Powell (September 27, 1924 – July 31, 1966 in New York City) was one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz. ...

LaFaro's untimely death at age twenty-five in a car accident, ten days after the Vanguard performances, devastated Evans. He did not record or perform in public again for several months. His first recording after LeFaro's death was the duet album Undercurrent with guitarist Jim Hall, released on Blue Note Records in 1963. Recorded in two sessions on April 24 and May 14, 1962, it is now widely regarded as one of the classic jazz piano-guitar duet recordings. The album is also notable for its striking cover image, "Weeki Wachee spring, Florida" by photographer Toni Frissell. The original LP version (left) and the first CD reissue featured a cropped, blue-tinted version, overlaid with the title and the Blue Note logo, but for the most recent (24-bit remastered) CD reissue the image has been restored to its original black-and-white coloration and size, without lettering. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Undercurrent is a 1963 album by the jazz pianist Bill Evans, and the jazz guitarist Jim Hall. ... Jim Hall is a programmer for the FreeDOS project and the original developer of the GNU Robots program. ... Blue Note Records is a jazz record label, established in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff. ... Weeki Wachee spring, Florida (1947) Toni Frissell, or Antoinette Frissell Bacon, (March 10, 1907 - April 17, 1988) was an American photographer, known for her fashion photography, World War II photographs, portraits of famous Americans and Europeans, children, and women from all walks of life. ...


When he reformed his trio in 1962, he replaced LaFaro with bassist Chuck Israels, initially keeping Motian on the drums. Two albums, Moonbeams and How My Heart Sings!, resulted. In 1963, after having switched from Riverside to the much more widely distributed Verve, he recorded Conversations With Myself, an innovative album on which he employed "over-dubbing", layering up to three individual tracks of piano for each song. The album won him his first Grammy award, for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance - Soloist or Small Group. Chuck Israels is a composer/arranger/bassist who has worked with Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, J.J. Johnson, John Coltrane, and many others. ... The Incredible Jazz Guitar Of Wes Montgomery, a 1960 Riverside release. ... Verve Records is an American Jazz record label, founded by Norman Granz in 1956, which absorbed the catalogues of his earlier labels: Norgran Records and Clef Records (founded 1953). ... Conversations With Myself  is a 1963 album by jazz musician Bill Evans. ... The Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Album, Individual or Group has been presented since 1959. ...


Though his time with Verve was prolific in terms of recording, his artistic output was uneven. Despite Israels's fast development and the creativity of new drummer Larry Bunker, they were ill-represented by the rather perfunctory album Trio '65 with the song Pavanne by Gabriel Faure but remarkably reinvented with improvisations by Evans. Some unique contexts were attempted, such as a big-band live album at Town Hall, which was recorded but never issued due to Evans's dissatisfaction (although the jazz trio portion of the Pavanne concert was made into its own somewhat successful release), and an album with a symphony orchestra, which was never warmly received by critics.


During this time, Helen Keane, Evans's manager, began having an important influence. Apart from being one of the first women in her field, she significantly helped maintain the progress, or prevented the deterioration, of Evans's career in spite of his self-damaging lifestyle.


In 1966, Evans discovered the remarkable young Puerto Rican bass player Eddie Gomez. In what turned out to be an eleven-year stay, the sensitive and creative Gomez sparked new developments in both Evans' playing and trio conception. One of the most significant releases during this period is Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival, from 1968. Although it was the only album Evans made with drummer Jack DeJohnette, it has remained a critical and fan favorite, due to the trio's remarkable energy and interplay. Eddie Gomez is a jazz bassist, born October 4, 1944 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. ... Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival  is a 1968 (see 1968 in music) album by the American jazz pianist Bill Evans, recorded live at that years Montreux Jazz Festival. ... Jack DeJohnette (b. ...


1970s

In 1968, Marty Morell joined the trio on drums and remained until 1975, when he retired to family life. This became Evans's most stable and long-lasting group. In addition, he had kicked his heroin habit and was entering a period of personal stability as well. The group made several excellent albums, including The Bill Evans Album, Since We Met, and The Tokyo Concert; But Beautiful, featuring the trio plus legendary tenor saxophonist Stan Getz in live 1974 performances from Holland and Belgium, was released posthumously in 1996. Morell was an energetic, straight-ahead drummer, unlike many of the other percussionists in the trio, and many critics feel that this was a period of little growth for Evans. After Morell left, Evans and Gomez recorded two duo albums, Intuition and Montreux III. Year 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will display full calendar) of the 1968 Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Heroin (INN: diacetylmorphine, BAN: diamorphine) is an opioid synthesized directly from the extracts of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum. ... Stanley Gayetsky (February 2, 1927 in Philadelphia – June 6, 1991 in Malibu, California), usually known by his stage name Stan Getz, was an American jazz musician. ...


In 1974, Bill Evans recorded a multi-movement jazz concerto specifically written for him by Claus Ogerman entitled "Symbiosis", originally released on the MPS Records label. The 1970s also saw Evans collaborate with the singer Tony Bennett on 1975's The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album and 1977's Together Again. Claus Ogerman (born April 29, 1930) is a German musical arranger/ orchestrator, conductor, and composer, perhaps best known for his work with Antonio Carlos Jobim. ... For other persons named Tony Bennett, see Tony Bennett (disambiguation). ... Year 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Tony Bennett Bill Evans Album is a 1975 (see 1975 in music) album by the singer Tony Bennett, accompianed by the pianist Bill Evans. ... Also: 1977 (album) by Ash. ... Together Again is a 1977 (see 1977 in music) album by the singer Tony Bennett, accompianed by the pianist Bill Evans. ...


Morell was replaced by Eliot Zigmund on drums in 1976. Several interesting collaborations followed, and it was not until 1977 that the trio was able to record an album together. Both I Will Say Goodbye (Evans's last for Fantasy Records) and You Must Believe in Spring (for Warner Bros.) highlighted changes that would become significant in the last stage of Evans career. A greater emphasis was placed on group improvisation and interaction, Evans was reaching new expressive heights in his soloing, and new experiments with harmony and keys were attempted. Year 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Fantasy Records is a United States based record label, which was founded by Max and Sol Weiss in 1949 in San Francisco, California. ...


Gomez and Zigmund left Evans in 1978 and Evans asked Philly Joe Jones, the drummer with whom had recorded his second album in 1957, to fill in. Several bassists were tried, with the remarkable Michael Moore staying the longest. His six months with the trio were frustrating due to Jones's rushing of the tempo and overplaying. Evans finally settled on Marc Johnson on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums. This trio was to be Evans's last. Although they released only one record prior to Evans's death in 1980 ("The Paris Concert," Edition One and Edition Two, 1979), they rivaled and arguably exceeded the first trio in their powerful group interactions. Evans stated that this was his best trio, a claim that has been supported by the many recordings that have since surfaced, each documenting the remarkable musical journey of his final year. The Debussy-like impressionism of the first trio has given way to a dark and urgent yet undeniably compelling, deeply moving if not mesmerizing romantic expressionism. Evans' own Russian ancestry is often reflected in the late Rachmaninoff pianism of his brooding constructions and the Shostakovich "Dance Macabre" modal explorations of "Nardis," the piece he reworked each time it served as the finale of his performances. But most notably the "anticipatory meter" that Evans deliberately perfected with his last trio reflects late Ravel, especially the controversial second half of the French composer's dark and turbulent "La Valse." Coincidentally, the recording documenting Evans' playing during the week preceding his death is a valedictory entitled "The Last Waltz." Many albums and compilations have been released in recent years, including three multi-disc boxed sets, Turn Out the Stars (Warner Bros.), The Last Waltz and Consecration (the former documenting his final sets and the latter his opening sets at San Francisco's Keystone Korner the week before his death). A particularly revealing comparison of early and late Evans (1966, 1980) is a 2007 DVD of two previously unreleased telecasts, "The Oslo Concerts." Year 1978 (MCMLXXVIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays the 1978 Gregorian calendar). ... Joseph Rudolph (Philly Joe) Jones (July 15, 1923 – August 30, 1985) was an American jazz drummer. ... Marc Johnson, born in Omaha, Nebraska on 21 October 1953, is an American jazz bassist, composer and bandleader. ... Joe LaBarbera is an American jazz drummer. ...


Drug addiction

Evans's chemical dependency problems most likely began during his stint with Miles Davis in the late 1950s. A heroin addict for much of his career, his health was generally poor and his financial situation worse for most of the 1960s. By the end of that decade he appeared to have succeeded in overcoming that drug problem, but during the 1970s cocaine became a serious and eventually fatal issue for Evans. His body finally gave out in the fall of 1980, when, ravaged by psychoactive drugs, a perforated liver, and a lifelong battle with hepatitis, he died in New York City of a bleeding ulcer, cirrhosis of the liver and bronchial pneumonia. A chemical dependency is such a strong dependency on a substance that it becomes necessary to have this substance just to function properly; The need of a substance developed from abusing the substance, requiring the substance for survival, like the need for food, or water See also: addiction drug tolerance... Miles Dewey Davis III (26 May 1926 – 28 September 1991) was one of the most influential musicians of the latter half of the 20th century. ... See also: 1949 in music, other events of 1950, 1951 in music, 1950s in music and the list of years in music // Events Malcolm Sargent becomes chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. ... Heroin (INN: diacetylmorphine, BAN: diamorphine) is an opioid synthesized directly from the extracts of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum. ... Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. ... Wikipedia does not yet have an article with this exact name. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ... A benign gastric ulcer (from the antrum) of a gastrectomy specimen. ... Cirrhosis of the liver is a consequence of chronic liver disease characterized by replacement of liver tissue by fibrotic scar tissue as well as regenerative nodules, leading to progressive loss of liver function. ... Pneumonia is an illness of the lungs and respiratory system in which the alveoli (microscopic air-filled sacs of the lung responsible for absorbing oxygen from the atmosphere) become inflamed and flooded with fluid. ...


Historical impact

Although the circumstances of his life were often difficult, Evans's music always displayed his creative mastery of harmony, rhythm, and interpretive jazz conception. Evans's work fused jazz elements, a unique conception of ensemble performance and a classical sense of form and conceptual scale in unprecedented ways. His recordings continue to influence pianists, guitarists, composers, and interpreters of jazz music around the world. Evans was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994. The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by the Recording Academy to performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording [1]. This award is distinct from the Grammy Hall of Fame Award, which honors specific recordings rather than individuals, and...


Discography

This article contains a listing of the jazz pianist Bill Evans original LP albums and subsequent collections from his career. ...

Multimedia

References

Pettinger, Peter. "How My Heart Sings." Yale University Press, 1999. This minutely detailed biography of Bill Evans is more like a highly-annotated discography than a warts-and-all biography. It does provide biographical information, but resists dwelling upon and sensationalising Evans' personal problems, instead serving as a clear musical biography.


External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Bill Evans
  • The Bill Evans Webpages
  • The Work of Claus Ogerman - Bill Evans' work with composer/arranger/conductor Claus Ogerman is documented here in a pictorial discography of original albums and compilations - many with explanatory liner notes.
  • Signifying Junkie: A Non-Believer’s Appreciation of Bill Evans, by Tom Djll (also includes the full text of Larry Kart's critique of Evans)
  • our thoughts about bill evans (japanese page)

  Results from FactBites:
 
Bill Evans - Improvisation concepts (5126 words)
BILL EVANS was born in Plainfield New Jersey on the 16th of August 1929.
Evans improvisation concept was that each phrase should be connected to the previous one, which led to a development of the initial motif that was manipulated and increased in complexity as the choruses progressed.
Evans usage of 3, 4 and 5-note voicing was typical in the seventies, in the sixties however he used 2 note voicing on fast tunes (Bud Powel influence).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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