Bill Evans Unisex T-Shirt
Finally, a way to show your respect for some of the greatest icons, legends and pioneers that paved the way past and present. Rock this gear in style and bring back the moments that made you, memories they gave you and/or lessons they taught you. Scroll down for a history lesson with some of our favorite clips.
Welcome to the Respect Due family Bill Evans! We salute you.
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Bill Evans – My Foolish Heart
William John Evans (August 16, 1929 – September 15, 1980) was an American jazz pianist and composer who mostly played in trios. His 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.
Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, in 1929, he was classically trained at Southeastern Louisiana University and the Mannes School of Music, where he majored in composition and received the Artist Diploma. In 1955, he moved to New York City, where he worked with bandleader and theorist George Russell. In 1958, Evans joined Miles Davis‘s sextet, which in 1959, then immersed in modal jazz, recorded Kind of Blue, the best-selling jazz album of all time. During that time, Evans was also playing with Chet Baker for the album Chet.
In late 1959, Evans left the Miles Davis band and began his career as a leader, with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, a group now regarded as a seminal modern jazz trio. In 1961, ten days after finishing an engagement at the New York Village Vanguard jazz club, LaFaro died in a car accident. After months of seclusion, Evans reemerged with a new trio, featuring bassist Chuck Israels.
Many of Evans’s compositions, such as “Waltz for Debby“, have become standards, played and recorded by many artists. Evans received 31 Grammy nominations and seven awards, and was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.
Bill Evans – Portrait in Jazz (1960 Album)
Bill Evans is seen as the main reformer of the harmonic language of jazz piano. Evans’s harmonic language was influenced by impressionist composers such as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. His versions of jazz standards, as well as his own compositions, often featured thorough reharmonisations. Musical features included added tone chords, modal inflections, unconventional substitutions, and modulations.
One of Evans’s distinctive harmonic traits is excluding the root in his chords, leaving this work to the bassist, played on another beat of the measure, or just left implied. “If I am going to be sitting here playing roots, fifths and full voicings, the bass is relegated to a time machine.” This idea had already been explored by Ahmad Jamal, Erroll Garner, and Red Garland. In Evans’s system, the chord is expressed as a quality identity and a color. Most of Evans’s harmonies feature added note chords or quartal voicings. Thus, Evans created a self-sufficient language for the left hand, a distinctive voicing, that allowed the transition from one chord to the next while hardly having to move the hand. With this technique, he created an effect of continuity in the central register of the piano. Lying around middle C, in this region the harmonic clusters sounded the clearest, and at the same time, left room for contrapuntal independence with the bass.
Evans’s improvisations relied heavily on motivic development, either melodically or rhythmically. Motives may be broken and recombined to form melodies. Another characteristic of Evans’s style is rhythmic displacement. His melodic contours often describe arches. Other characteristics include sequenciation of melodies and transforming one motive into another. He plays with one hand in the time signature of 4/4 and the other momentarily in 3/4.
At the beginning of his career, Evans used block chords heavily. He later abandoned them in part. During a 1978 interview, Marian McPartland asked:
- “How do you think your playing has changed since you first started? Is it deliberate or is it just happening to change?”
- Bill Evans: “Well it’s deliberate, ahh but I stay along the same lines…I try to get a little deeper into what I’m doing. As far as that kind of playing goes, [jazz playing rather than an earlier example where he played Waltz for Debbie without any improvisation or sense of swing], I think my left hand is a little more competent and uhh…of course I worked a lot on inner things happening like inner voices I’ve worked on.”
At least during his late years, Evans’s favorite keys to play in were A and E. Evans greatly valued Bach‘s music, which influenced his playing style and which helped him gain good touch and finger independence. “Bach changed my hand approach to playing the piano. I used to use a lot of finger technique when I was younger, and I changed over a weight technique. Actually, if you play Bach and the voices sing at all, and sustain the way they should, you really can’t play it with the wrong approach.” Evans valued Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier” and his “Two- and Three-Part Inventions” as excellent practice material.
Bill Evans “Peace Piece”
Bill Evans Trio – Autumn Leaves
Bill Evans – All the Best (FULL ALBUM – THE BEST OF JAZZ)
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