Bill Evans August 16, 2009 by Doug Ramsey Bill Evans was born 80 years ago today. He enriched music. Bill Evans, 1929-1980 Related
Thanks a lot, Doug, for remembering Bill’s 80th anniversary. Feel free to click on my name and you will have the chance for yet another comparison. Bill’s imagination was boundless.
Happy birthday, Bill Evans! Everybody with ears digs your swinging lines and voicings.
Ed Leimbacher says
From Everybody Digs to Explorations, Vanguard to Montreux, Believe in Spring to Meet Again, and Paris to the (yes, controversial) last recordings, this one True Bill of Retainder… Evans on Earth.
Mike Harris says
Bill’s music was incomparable. Nobody else listened to his music as well as he did. Back in the 1980’s, when I was working on the Hubble Space Telescope by day, and listening to Bill Evans at home in the evening, it occurred to me that while the Hubble was (hopefully) going to provide mankind our best guide to the outer universe of planets, stars, and galaxies, it was surely the legacy of Bill Evans that he had guided so many of us on our path to the inner universe.
How often, in the course of reading interviews with people both within and outside the musical field, have I encountered some variation of the same basic tale—“I was well on my way to becoming” (fill in the blank here) “when I first heard the music of Bill Evans, and it changed my life forever!”
If the individuals were musicians, then perhaps they decided then and there to dedicate themselves to the jazz life. For others, the epiphany may have taken the form of a deeper awareness of the need to develop their own spiritual awareness, whatever the chosen form. But whatever the specifics, there would appear to exist a specific cast of mind for whom the initial confrontation with Evans’ music constituted an enduring call to strengthen and elaborate their own relationship to beauty.
For those so afflicted, the release of each new Evans recording was a major emotional event, the opportunity to hear for the first time a new Evans composition, or perhaps a reworking of some formerly nondescript tune which he would transform, by his unique alchemy, into a magical trip through previously unimaginable chord-changes and voicings.
Bill used to speak of the ability of music to show people a part of themselves that they never knew existed, and his music surely did that for me. There is in that music a profoundly mysterious power to penetrate to the very core of the listener’s consciousness, a power that, defying all our paltry efforts, cannot possibly be put into words, but that nevertheless exists just as surely as the changes that he generated in the lives of so many others.
Sugar Candelaria says
At another end of the spectrum, Cecil Taylor is still with us at 80. I wonder what he thought of Evans. Anybody know?
Jan Stevens says
Thanks Doug for the mention. Mike and Jack (among a few others) both contributed heartfelt tributes to my site. They know, as I do, that once you get deep inside Bill’s voluminous and engaging music, you never leave. It invites you into more levels as time goes on. It always keeps you inside its warmth and love. I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t playing piano, (as I started when I was five) so it’s a little hard to be objective. But over forty years I’ve often wondered actually HOW folks who don’t know piano — where you can read through, play and and see those immense and continually surprising rewards Bill gave us –can also have so much love for him. But they do. It is this kind of magic he had within the jazz milieu, but it is that spiritual sweetness that lives outside of the label “jazz.” He transcended it all.