In a Portland festival conversation at the Art Bar, interviewer Tim DuRoche questioned pianist Steve Kuhn (pictured ca 1960) about first hearing Bill Evans. “Did it rattle you a little bit?” DuRoche asked.
It did, because we were sort of on parallel paths. I heard him for the first time in 1957 up at Brandeis University, where he was doing a concert with George Russell. When I heard him play and after I listened to a couple of his recordings, I said, “My goodness, this is what I’m trying to do, but he’s already doing it, so I’ve got to somehow absorb that and then continue to find my own voice,” which I think I have over the years. But initially, it was an epiphany. Bill was like a big brother to me and, uh…
Kuhn breathed deeply, swallowed hard and held up a hand signaling a pause that lasted half a minute or so.
…Excuse me; it’s fatigue and emotion…when I came to New York he was very helpful, introducing me to different people and recommending me for jobs. So, we hung out quite a bit. He was a very special person. We stayed pretty close all of his life. Bill was helpful to me, very helpful.
You can listen to audio of the Kuhn interview and nine other PDX festival jazz conversations at the Oregon Music News podcast page.
The Bill Evans-George Russell performance of “All About Rosie” that impressed Kuhn at Brandeis is incuded on this CD.