Bill Evans’ reply in an interview about his appearance on the covers of his albums
Lee Jeske: “The smile, I realize, is a rarity. Of your entire recorded oeuvre I can’t think of a single cover in which the spectacled, professorial Evans is smiling.”
Bill Evans: “It gets a little over-emphasized and so, naturally, they just choose pictures like that. If there are four pictures and I’m smiling on two, they pick the one with the serious look. My image seems to be of the intellectual, serious, romantic, lyric, ballad player and this is certainly one side of myself. But I think I put much more effort, study and development and intensity into just straight ahead jazz playing, the language of it and all that swinging, energy, whatever. It seems that people don’t dwell on that aspect of my playing very much; it’s always the romantic, lyric thing, which is fine, but I really like to think of myself as a more total jazz player than that.” (Down Beat, 1979)
Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz series: Bill Evans
A historic document is the recording of a radio broadcast of Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz series with Bill Evans (The Jazz Alliance 1978, reissue 2002). The session was recorded less than two years before his death, at the time bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera joined his trio. The beauty of this one-hour program is that Bill Evans sounds relaxed and open, and explains many things about the way he plays and what he strives to achieve, offering an abundance of insights into his career and thought process. It is a very clarifying interview, with him playing solo or in duet with McPartland in between the conversations. There are few words left to describe the creative and fertile musical mind that was Bill Evans. This session is a rare opportunity to hear him talk casually about both music and some elements of his personal life and to experience some of the unique, creative processes that dealed with this exceptional musician. It was very interesting to hear his thoughts on jazz music, and to get a glance through his thinking and sensibility behind playing and improvising. He spends a great deal of time responding thoughtfully to Marian McPartland’s questions and illustrates in-depth, when she asks him for example to demonstrate his concept of displacement of time. He talks about his idea of the piano trio and his trio members, based on their ability to be given a great deal of freedom and use it responsibly to contribute to the whole. They talk about contributions of the bass players Eddie Gomez and Scott LaFaro to Evans’ music. “I try to reach out for things that are natural and fundamental…. I choose the people as responsible musicians and artists so that I can give them that kind of freedom and know that they’re going to use it with discretion toward a total result…. With Scott LaFaro it was a once in a lifetime thing, but I have had marvelous experiences with other bass players, with Eddie Gomez certainly for eleven years, and now with a new young bass player–I don’t know what I can say about … Marc Johnson…. He’s just gorgeous.” He emphasises the importance of knowing the structure of a tune and insist that knowledge must lead intuition. No devotee of Bill Evans should pass by the opportunity to hear this musical and verbal exchange.
From the liner notes of the album by Marian McPartland about “Reflections in D” from Duke Ellington: “Sitting next to him, listening to the rise and fall of the melody, I realized that, perhaps unconsciously, he choose some of the most romantic, evocative tunes there are. The tune ended softly, with a chord so perfect it took my breath away”. The track was also recorded on the third and final recording of overdubbed solos, the album “New Conversations” (Warner Bros, 1978)
Bill Evans’ very last (bootleg) recording ??
The album “Last Note” is his very final recording of a performance – live on September 10, 1980, at the jazz club “Fat Tuesdays” in New York. Bill Evans was to play five nights but only managed two sets on this evening. He called in sick the next day and died on the 15th in the Mount Sinai Hospital at the age of 51. This gig has never been officially released. The recording is a few generations away from the original. It is a bootleg recording, probably in secret taped by a devoted fan. The recording is of fairly raw sound quality with a lot of distortions; also the balance between the instruments is lacking. The album has a much lesser quality than “The Secret Sessions” box set of 8 discs taped in the Village Vanguard between 1966-1975. The line up of the trio consisted of Bill Evans on piano, Marc Johnson on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums. The set ends very touching with his own composition “Turn Out The Stars”. The bootleg is released in 2010 with the same bad sound quality by Domino Records. Perhaps the whole Fat Tuesday album from Domino Records is fake, like this bootleg. Most tracks are illegal copied from the Village Vanguard box “Turn Out The Stars” (Warner Brothers) from June 1980.
01 If You Could See Me Know 5:49
02 Bill’s Hit Tune 7:14
03 Knit For Mary F. 6:01
04 Laurie 7:01
05 I Do It For Your Love 5:39
06 My Foolish Heart 3:53
07 Letter To Evan 4:54
08 Polka Dots And Moonbeams 5:45
09 Like Someone In Love 5:56
10 Your Story 3:41
11 Tiffany – Time Remembered 10:14
12 Turn Out the Stars 5:26
Original vintage advertisements and memorabilia about Bill Evans
Riverside and Fantasy Records/International talent press photos of Bill Evans.The photos are derived from the archives of the Village Gate in NYC. The Village Gate was a nightclub at the corner of Thompson and Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. The club opened in 1958 and closed its location in 1993. Throughout its 38 years the Village Gate featured such musicians as John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Nina Simone and Aretha Franklin. Top of the Gate was a room upstairs at the Village Gate that booked mostly pianists. Bill Evans played there in 1968 and returned in 1972. Four numbers were broadcast and televised, and they have survived on a bootleg LP from Chazzer, “Bill Evans Trio: Rare Broadcast Material”. Resonance Records will release in June 2012 a double album: Bill Evans Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate. Notable albums recorded live at The Village Gate: Clark Terry, Horace Siver, Jimmy Smith, Herbie Mann, Coleman Hawkins, Les McCann, Thelonious Monk, Tony Williams and Chris Connor. On the photos Helen Keane was mentioned as Bill’s manager.
Vintage ad for the album “Since We Met” (Fantasy 1976) and for Verve Down Beat winners in 1965
Vintage ad for the album “Trio 65” (Verve 1965) and the album “Together Again” (Rhino/Wea 1999)
Original vintage promo ad for Riverside Records “Portrait In Jazz” (1960) and “Explorations” (1961)
Vintage ad for the Paris Concert February 1965 and “The Complete Riverside Recordings 18-LP box
The Riverside album “Portrait in Jazz” from 1960 on a used phonecard from Japan
Original vintage promo ad for Verve Records “The Complete Bill Evans on Verve” (1997)
A collector item. From the radioprogram “Voices of Vista No. 41″, a 12” transcription disc from the mid-1960s 33 RPM Record Size LP. Vista (Volunteers In Service To America), produced for the Office of Economic Opportunity by M. A. Mangum, Inc. for the use of radio stations. The Bill Evans side is 23 minutes & 50 seconds long and features Bill Evans with Jim Hall playing “Jazz Samba” from “Intermodulation”; “Prelude” and “Time Remembered” from the “Bill Evans Trio With Symphony Orchestra” arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman. The other side of the LP has only VISTA promos. Also interviews by Willis Clark Conover, Jr. (1920 – 1996). He was a jazz producer and broadcaster on the Voice of America for over forty years. He produced jazz concerts at the White House, the Newport Jazz Festival, and for movies and television.
Another broadcasting memorabilium: A special disc jockey record released on a 45 rpm single from the album “Bill Evans Plays the Theme from the V.I.P.’s”. (With Bill Evans (p) Claus Ogerman (arr, cond.) brass, rhythm, strings, woodwinds NYC, May 6, 1963). This commercial recording is not an album with the quality of “With Symphony Orchestra” or “Symbiosis”, but musically a disappointing fiasco. This music was recorded Bill had already gained a huge well deserved reputation. Why he took on this project is totally incomprehensible. Next to it the 45 rpm single “Prelude” from the album “Bill Evans Trio with Symphony Orchestra” with Claus Ogerman (Verve, 1966).
A Bill Evans compilation on two CD’s with a biography of 44 pages released by one of the heading French magazines for music “Le Monde de la Musique” and “Le Monde du Jazz” from the newspaper “Le Monde”, edited by the French music journalists and writers André Francis and Jean Schwartz. Inclusive rare registrations like the songs “Kimona, My House”, “Jack’s Blues”, “Aeolian Drinking Song” and “Mother of Earl”.
A review from Doug Ramsey on a tour of Bill Evans at the Paramount Theatre in Austin in 1979.
Bill Evans with Bobby Darin poses his trophy as he receives his Grammy Award for “The Bill Evans Album”, 1972.
Bill Evans Trio, Antibes Jazz Festival, 21 July 1975, with Eddie Gomez on bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums