In today’s Wall Street Journal I have an article in observance of the 30th anniversary of Bill Evans’ death. Here are a few of the 900-plus words:
Among pianists, Evans, who died 30 years ago Wednesday at age 51, is as immediately identifiable as Tatum, Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson and Bud Powell. In artistry and influence, he is their inheritor and successor. With the exception of those who specialize in stride or boogie woogie, virtually all jazz pianists who developed from the early 1960s on learned from Evans and, if they could, adapted aspects of his playing.
To read the entire piece, open your WSJ to the Personal Journal section, or go here.
As a bonus for Rifftides readers, here’s an account from Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond of the night Evans asked Desmond to sit in.
(Desmond) and I went one evening to a club called Reno Sweeney to hear Bill Evans, who, it could be argued, was the most influential and respected jazz pianist since Bud Powell. Evans was appearing with his trio opposite Blossom Dearie. During a break, he joined us at our table to chat and said he would love it if Paul sat in. Desmond declined. Bill tried to persuade him. I offered to take a cab uptown and bring back his horn. “No, not tonight, thanks,” Paul said. “Gee,” Bill said, almost pleadingly, “Lee sat in last night.” The news about Lee Konitz, whom Paul admired, did not change his mind.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve imagined the music those two would have made together.
Richard Mitnick says
Ever since Terry Teachout’s August 2009 article on jazz, the article that inflamed the whole jazz community, it seems that the WSJ has had an increasing number of positive and constructive articles on Jazz. We thank the WSJ for that.
Bruce Gelfand says
Fantastic article on Evans. Thanks for giving him the credit he deserves not just for his playing but his influence.
Peter Bergmann says
I sent a letter to Jim Hall many, many years ago telling him how much I would enjoy him getting Bill and Paul together in a studio, or wherever.
It never happened.
Alan MEEKS says
Great article Doug on Bill Evans. Thanks for sharing Bill’s story of his music to others so that they may listen and know his music. Seems that very few few people acknowledge Bill and his music these days and recongnize the impact he has made in jazz. Thanks again for remembering Bill Evans!
Dr. Mike Baughan says
Desmond & Evans:
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve imagined the music those two would have made together.” It’d be ‘Like Buttah’!
If Paul had played that night, maybe ‘Reno Sweeney’ would still be around(apologies to ‘Lee’). Where was Reno Sweeney, btw?
(Reno Sweeney was at 126 West 13th Street, New York, between 6th and 7th Avenues. It later became a club called Zinno’s.DR)
Doug Zielke says
Thank you, Doug, for the thoughtful remembrance of Bill Evans. Thirty years is a long time. Yet, when I play any album from my Evans collection, it sounds as vital and fresh as anything from today.
Ed Leimbacher says
Time was, we’d turn out the stars and waltz for Debby… Now, today and tomorrow, revelations or no, thanks for impressions worth waiting for, Doug, complete with some useful re-emphasis. I knew your piece would fit the Bill.
Jim Szantor says
I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated your WSJ piece on Bill Evans. Thanks for writing it.
Gary Walters says
Thanks for the Evans article Mr. Ramsey. You’re thoughtful writing is a joy to read.
Lee Barnes says
Thank you for an excellent piece, and writing it without using the cliched “legend” even once. I cannot read a feature of any kind these days without that overused word popping up.
Ken Dryden says
Not many pianists had the opportunity to play with Paul Desmond. He sat in with the MJQ for a Christmas 1971 concert that was issued after his death, while John Lewis also can briefly be seen in that 1975 Monterey video of Desmond. Marian McPartland told me that she thought the alto saxophonist was very picky about what was played behind him.
Mark Mohr says
R.I.P. Bill Evans. Your wonderful music has delighted generations of fans.
Ron Smith says
Another ‘Thank You’ for an elegant, inspiring article about Bill Evans. Your writing demonstrates a thoughtful synthesis of decades of scholarship and admiration. Hey, the WSJ is one of my favorite literary diversions! Looking forward to delving into your blog. Thanks
Bill Byam says
Someone needs to light a fire under Evan Evans
to start releasing more of the Harris tape material. Vanguard 1979.
Peter Titelman says
Thanks for your fine article on Bill Evans. He has long been a favorite of mine since I first heard him at the Village Vanguard when I was 16 years old. My proudest contribution to jazz was a quote that Peter Pettinger included in his biography of Bill Evans, “How My Heart Sings”, in which I describe one of my experiences of taking my father to hear Bill Evans in JUne of 1961. I was sure it was the weekend of the recording of the live at the village Vanguard albums but Pettinger, a stickler for detail, asked me who was playing opposite Evans’ trio that Sunday. When I told him it was Stan Getz he told me the date was two weeks earlier.
Ty Newcomb says
That was a great article Doug!!! You got it into the WSJ?? Wow!!! I have to listen some more to Bill when he and Scott LaFaro were together. Was Scott LaFaro to Bill Evans like Richard Twardzik was to Chet Baker?? Just a thought…