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Bill Evans Band

Discussion in 'Music Forum' started by cshadows2887, May 21, 2016.

  1. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter


    William John "Bill" Evans (pronunciation: /ˈɛvəns/, August 16, 1929 – September 15, 1980) was an American jazz pianist and composer who mostly worked in a trio setting. Evans' use of impressionist harmony, inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, block chords, and trademark rhythmically independent, "singing" melodic lines continue to influence jazz pianists today.
  2. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Bill Evans
    (Assembled mostly from Ben's expertise, with a relatively minimal amount of curation on my part)

    A jazz legend who makes music beautiful enough to draw in neophytes but accomplished enough for serious fans, he has a case for the greatest of the jazz pianists. He made his name in Mile Davis's sextet and played on the archetypal jazz album, Kind of Blue. From there he led his own bands, influencing generations of piano players.

    Recommended Listen: The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album

    Crash Course:
    1. The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album
    2. Waltz For Debby
    3. Conversations With Myself

    Compilation Replacement:
    Bill Evans's Finest Hour

    Signature Songs:
    1. "Peace Piece" (Everybody Digs Bill Evans)
    2. "Blue in Green" (Portrait in Jazz)
    3. "Waltz For Debby" (Waltz for Debby/Sunday at The Village Vanguard)
    4. Funkarello (The Interplay Sessions)
    5. My Foolish Heart (Waltz for Debby)

    Personal Note:
    For my personal taste, "A House is Not a Home" would be one of the songs, as it's fucking astounding. I also would have included I Will Say Goodbye. But Ben is MUCH more knowledgable than I am, so I defer to his expertise. I'm excited to do a deep dive on an artist I don't know that well for a week.

    Ben's Commentary:
    There's a lot that could be in other two, after the live cut, though. I'd choose Portrait in Jazz over Everybody Digs Bill Evans, for instance, because the former is his trio with LaFaro and Motian, which was his best group imo. However, that's the same group as the live cut, so if you wanted to be a little more eclectic over his career you could go with Everybody Digs, which is a different group.

    is essential in the sense that it was extremely groundbreaking in its use of overdubbing, but it may not be totally accessible. It's in a similar timeframe as the other two listed (they're '61, '59, '63), too, so if you value a spread you could go with a late album like You Must Believe in Spring (absolutely soul-crushing album btw) but other than the emotions its not really on the same level as the others. His best work was truly 58-63, anything else is probably under "further exploration." The Bill Evans Album is another later-career highlight, but again, it's not really on the level of even the likes of other 58-63 albums like Undercurrent or Interplay.

    Further listening:
    - Everybody Digs Bill Evans (1958)
    - Interplay (1962)
    - Undercurrent (1962)

    Later career exploration:
    - You Must Believe in Spring (1977)
    - The Bill Evans Album (1971)
    - The Tokyo Concert (1973)
  3. George

    Trusted Prestigious

    Alright. I know nothing about him, excited to listen.
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  4. Wharf Rat

    I know a little something you won't ever know Prestigious

    The legend
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  5. George May 23, 2016
    (Last edited: May 23, 2016)

    Trusted Prestigious

    Listened to The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album. I think sometimes that my complete lack of technical musical knowledge holds me back when listening to something like that. From reading the blurb, and seeing the records he played on, there can be no doubt that Bill Evans is a remarkably talented pianist, I just don't know enough about the instrument to hear that.

    I can definitely hear that he is confident and assured and the piano is nicely arranged and very pleasant. However, nothing on here wows me, or shows anything that I wouldn't expect most trained and competent pianists to be able to play. That's obviously on me, not him, as I know he's definitely way better than I can appreciate or notice.

    I can definitely appreciate Tony Bennett though! I knew him vaguely by reputation before this, but hadn't listened to him at all. He's got an astounding voice, very Rat-Pack like, and just an absolute dream to listen to. He doesn't really show off much of a range, but absolutely nails every single note. He kept me interested in the album, would definitely enjoy listening to him sing for hours. Just a real classic, timeless voice. I know this is a Bill Evans thread, but I'm far more keen to hear more Tony Bennett! I will definitely give Evans another shot though.

    The album kind of all falls in the same groove, once you've heard a few tracks, you've kind of got the feel for it. However, it nails that late-night smoky bar vibe. I could definitely imagine Bennett singing this leaned up against a piano, bow tie undone, with a glass of whisky in his hand haha.
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  6. Ben

    Trusted Prestigious

    Oooooh jazz! Can't wait to dive into some of this throughout the week.
    cshadows2887 likes this.
  7. George

    Trusted Prestigious

    Conversations with Myself is pretty cool, actually! There's a lot to process here, because we've got multiple piano compositions here, playing simultaneously. It definitely feels like something I'd get more out of with repeated listens, because there's a hell of a lot going on here.

    As I mentioned before, I'm maybe not up to scratch with the technical knowledge to truly appreciate something like this, but it sounds very impressive, and the different levels of piano dueling and playing off against each other. It's definitely an interesting listen, and nothing like I've heard before. It's a nice short album too, over in about half an hour, which is definitely ideal as I could imagine my attention wavering for any longer than that.

    It's without doubt an intriguing listen, and one that I'd be keen to return to. It's definitely not love at first listen, but I have no doubt that there's a lot of depth to it. It's a really bold album, that's for sure.
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  8. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    This is exactly why I picked this album as the recommended listen. Figured it was probably the easiest access point.
  9. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Listening to Waltz for Debby for the first time. I think Bill Evans is one of my favorite jazz musicians precisely because I don't know jack shit about the technical end. I can appreciate that there's complexity, but his stuff also just sounds beautiful. I always see the word "romantic" thrown around with his name and I think that's the perfect descriptor. His upbeat stuff like "Waltz for Debby" is both fun and pretty, and when he slows down for something like "My Foolish Heart" it's haunting.

    I have trouble with trios sometimes because I don't love constantly busy basslines, but Scott LaFaro picks his spots well and when he's playing just as part of the unit he really is incredible.
  10. Wharf Rat

    I know a little something you won't ever know Prestigious

    Really interesting to see, as Chris put it, "neophytes'" thoughts on him. I can already tell my predictions in that regard are off. Haha. Haven't been able to listen much this weekend because I've had a crushing headache for 3 days but hopefully I'll be able to do some listening soon
  11. teebs41

    Prestigious Prestigious

    Huge fan of pretty much all of his trio material but portrait in jazz is one of the greatest jazz records of all time
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  12. Hank Thorough


    If you don't mind another suggestion, check out the album Alone. It is just Mr. Evans playing songs by himself, hence the title. It shows off his ability to improvise and carry a song at the same time. It's also my personal favorite of his. If you're in school or work in an office, it's great music to zone out and study/work to.
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  13. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Oh, man, I'm loving Portrait in Jazz. It's hard for me to be too specific in my commentary on jazz for lack of knowledge, but whatever this style of jazz is would definitely be my sweet spot with the genre.
    teebs41 likes this.
  14. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Listening to You Must Believe in Spring, and it really is heartbreakingly pretty. I think some of that is knowing it was his first posthumous release, which adds something to his already romantic and haunting playing, but who cares. It's wonderful.
  15. Wharf Rat

    I know a little something you won't ever know Prestigious

    It's hard to classify it. I mean, wiki just calls it "jazz." I guess it's modal but that doesn't necessarily indicate an aesthetic or sound so much as the theory behind it. But, still, that's a good lane to explore. Modal jazz kind of grew out of cool jazz too, so you could look there. Mellower hard bop or less abrasive post bop too maybe. Also, you know, this is full of ballads, so there's another avenue. Other piano trios too.

    Modal jazz was kind of 'the thing' in this range of late 50s-early 60s so there's tons of coltrane, miles, wayne shorter, herbie, etc from that time that probably fits. You know, My Favorite Things, Porgy and Bess, Adam's Apple, Maiden Voyage, stuff like that. Hard bop moves away from the inherent mellowness of a piano trio which is present on Portrait even on the faster stuff like "What Is This Thing" but Miles' Walkin'; Steamin; etc series might be worth checking out. Blue Train maybe? Depends what it is that you're digging here I guess.

    I fucking love Portrait too. It's immense in its style of the entire trio being essential as opposed to the drummer and bassist existing to keep time for the pianist. LaFaro's solos are pristine and as moving as Evans' and Motian is instrumental in setting the tone. "Spring is Here" is playing now for example and his work on brushes is as important to the song as Evans' block chords. That block chord style gives so much density to the piano that the fact that the rest of the groups adds so much to the composition is extremely impressive. They know just when to counterpoint or stick with the theme Evans suggests. When Evans solos on this thing and drops out for 2 or 4 bars and you get LaFaro dropping in with a line that gives the song so much desperate, longing tension....its divine. It's as important to the solo as the soloist.

    And "Someday My Prince Will Come," which was probably the definitive version until Miles', might remain my favorite over Miles'. The beauty of this trio really comes out here. It doesn't sound like the other two are accompanying Evans really as much as they're taking simultaneous solos, or accompanying each other. Every time Evans hits a quick sixteenth note lick and takes a beat to gather himself LaFaro drops in one of those lines. It's not a response to Evans' lick but one totally his own that happens to complement Evans' perfectly. That cohesion and equality in the group is what the revelation in this group. The piano trio isn't drums and bass behind a pianist, its a pianist, a drummer, and a bassist. Honestly I think that innovation (which tbf isn't solely a Bill Evans Trio creation but its place in a piano trio is much moreso) is one of the more important ones in jazz and extended to free jazz and post bop and even rock n roll.
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  16. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    Yeah it's hard for me to pinpoint, lacking the theoretical or genre knowledge, but Herbie's Speak Like a Child , Kind of Blue, My Favorite Things and Giant Steps and what I know from Evans all seem to fit around it. Very melodic, generally slower and less busy even on the more upbeat numbers, staying away from the avant-garde tendencies. That shit is up my alley.

    Then again, I fucking love Mingus Ah Um and Thembi and Black Saint and the Sinner Lady and A Love Supreme and Monk's Dream and Tribute to Jack Johnson, so the fuck do I know?

    I had no clue what a block chord was before digging into Evans this week, and now know that's something I really love stylistically, so at least I learned something concrete. Haha
  17. teebs41

    Prestigious Prestigious

    It's got to be one of the greatest jazz records of all time. The term you are looking for is cool jazz piano trio
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  18. cshadows2887

    Hailey, It Happens @haileyithappens Supporter

    From the description, I expected Conversations with Myself to be maybe a bit off-the-wall for me, but it's surprisingly accessible. At times, it almost feels more classical than jazz (not that I can properly articulate the difference). Especially those big crashing chords overlapping at the end of "'Round Midnight" make him sound like some great lost Russian composer.
  19. Ben

    Trusted Prestigious

    Just listened to Portrait In Jazz and holy shit I loved it. I've always loved his playing on Kind Of Blue, but I never took the time to check out his own catalog. I really love the style and mood throughout the album, and there's not a dud on here. He's now definitely on my list to go deeper into when I get into a big jazz kick (which is usually around October).
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