Publications and books on Bill Evans and jazz piano


•  ‘Listen To Evans’ by Yasuki Nakayama (Goma Books, 2007)
•  ‘Bill Evans Live’ by Bruno Krebs (Gallimard 2006)
•  ‘Bill Evans’ by Enrico Pieranunzi (Continuum Books 2004)
•  ‘Friends Along The Way’ Chapter: Helen and Bill (268-285) by Gene Lees
   (Yale University Press, 2003)
•  ‘Everything Happens to Me’ by Keith Shadwick (Publ. Group West, 2002)
•  ‘Bill Evans’ by Alain Gerber (Fayard, 2001)
•  ‘How My Heart Sings’ by Peter Pettinger (Yale Press, 1998)
•  ‘The Jazz Tradition’ by Martin Williams (Oxford University Press, 1993)
    Chapter Bill Evans: A Need To Know
•  ‘Bill Evans, A Biography’ by Gene Lees (Thorndike Press, 2000, out of
•  ‘Meet Me at Jim & Andy’s: Jazz Musicians and Their World’ by Gene Lees
    Chapter The Poet (Oxford University Press, 1990)
•  ‘Bill Evans’ by Hanns E. Petrik (Oreos, 1989)
•  ‘Discography of Bill Evans’ by Peter H. Larsen (Denmark, 1984)
Theses and publications

•  ‘A Fragmented Parallel Stream: The Bass Lines of Eddie Gomez in
    the Bill Evans Trio’ by Gary David Holgate (Sydney University, 2009)
•  ‘Bill Evans and his influence on Jazz Music’ by Kaewalin Prasertchang
    (Kingston University, London, 2008)
•  ‘The Poet and The Priest: The Divergent Piano Styles of Bill Evans
    and Thelonious Monk” by Michael Conklin (Rutgers Univ. , 2007)
•  ‘Maurice Ravel and Bill Evans: Observations on certain aspects of the
    French music in the piano score in the beginning of the modern era
    of jazz’ by Cesare Grossi (2006)
•  ‘New Jazz Conceptions: Bill Evans’s Unique Mark on “Blue in Green”
    by Brian D. Hall (The Brigham Young University, 2005)
•  ‘Composition versus improvisation’ (about ‘Conversations With Myself’)
    by Steve Larson (Journal of Music Theory 49 (2): 241. 2005)
•  ‘Jazz stylistic features through the identification of vertical structures
    in Bill Evans’s work’ by Marcelo Gimenes (University of Campinas,
    Brazil, 2003)
•  ‘Interactive Jazz Improvisation in the Bill Evans Trio (1959-61): A Stylistic
    Study For Advanced Double Bass Performance” by Donald L.Wilner
    (University of Miami, 1995).
•  ‘Impressionism in Jazz: from Bix Beiderbecke to Bill Evans”
    by Philippe Fourquet (Master Thesis, Univ. Paris, 1993)
•  ‘Bill Evans: His Contributions as a Jazz Pianist and an Analysis of his
    Musical Style’ by Paula Berardinelli (Doctoral Dissertation, NY Univ.,
•  ‘Bill Evans: An analytical study of his improvisational style through
    selected transcriptions’ by Stephen Widenhofer (Master thesis Univ.
    of Northern Colorado, 1988)
•  ‘Bill Evans: a Musical Memoir’ by Chuck Israels (Musical Quarterly, 1985)
•  ‘Bill Evans: Portrait of his life, Example in his Style of Motivic
    Development and Rhythmic’ by Ann Brinkerhoff Beatty (Master Thesis,
    Univ. of Denver, 1985)
•  ‘Homer, Gregory, and Bill Evans? the theory of formulaic composition
    in the context of jazz piano improvisation’ by Gregory Eugene Smith
    (Thesis, Harvard University, 1983)
•  ‘Jazz Improv’ Vol. 3 No. 1: Bill Evans
•  ‘Letter From Evans‘ (26 issues: 1989-1994) a quarterly by Win Hinkle
•  ‘The Jazz Piano Style of Bill Evans’ by Joe Utterback
    ( Master Thesis, Univ. of Kansas, 1979)
•  More published Master Theses
For further exploration of jazz piano as a musical form, interviews and the music of Bill Evans the books mentioned below are a good starting point:

•  ‘Compendium of Over 2000 Jazz Pianists’ by Arnie Fox (Trafford, 2007)
•  ‘Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players’ by Gene Rizzo (Hal Leonard, 2005)
•  ‘Handful Of Keys’ by Alyn Shipton (Equinox Publishing Ltd, 2004)
•  ‘Friends Along The Way’ by Gene Lees (Yale University Press, 2003)
•  ‘All In Good Time’ by Marian McPartland (Illinois Press, 2003)
•  ‘The making of Kind of Blue’ by Ashley Kahn (Da Capo, 2000)
•  ‘Miles: the Autobiography’ by Miles Davis (Simon & Schuster, 1989)
•  ‘The Giants Of Jazz Piano’ by Robert Doerschuk (Backbeat Books, 2001)
•  ‘Jazz Spoken Here’ by Enstice, Wayne, and Paul Rubin. (Da Capo, 1994)
•  ‘The Great Jazz Pianists’ by Len Lyons (Da Capo, 1989)
•  ‘Jazz Portraits’ by Len Lyons and Don Perlo (Morrow & Co, 1989)
•  ‘Meet Me at Jim & Andy’s’ by Gene Lees (Oxford University Press, 1988)
•  ‘L’improviste’ Jazz et Piano by Jacques Réda (Gallimard, 1985)
•  ‘Jazz Piano’ by Billy Taylor (Brown Company, 1982)
The Jazzinstitut Darmstadt in Germany has a extensive periodical collection comprises almost 1050 periodicals, more than 55.000 single issues. About 60 % of the collection have been indexed. They have a huge collection of articles about Bill Evans.

HOW MY HEART SINGSThe biography ‘How My Heart Sings’ by Peter Pettinger (Yale Press, 1998) has been selected as a 1998 “Notable Book of the Year” by The New York Times Book Review and was Winner of the 1999 “Deems Taylor Award” in the Pop Books Category given by ASCAP. This enthralling book is the first biography in English of Bill Evans, one of the most influential of all jazz pianists. Peter Pettinger, himself a concert pianist, describes Evans’s life (the personal tragedies and commercial successes), his music making (technique, compositional methods, and approach to ensemble playing), and his legacy. The book also includes a full discography and dozens of photographs. The author Peter Pettinger (1945 – 1998) has been an international concert pianist for more than twenty-five years. His many recordings include the Bartók sonatas with the violinist Sándor Végh, the Elgar Sonata and a jazz album with the violinist Nigel Kennedy, and Elgar`s works for solo piano. He teaches piano and chamber music within Cambridge University.

Some authoritative statements about the book:

“This book is likely to become a classic. There is nothing quite like it in the history of jazz. A concert pianist looks at the work of a jazz pianist whom many authorities consider one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. Pettinger hears all sorts of subtleties as only a fellow pianist can. He is also a felicitous and interesting writer. This is a brilliant piece of extended analysis.”—Gene Lees

“Pettinger’s strength as a listener and analyst makes this an essential book about Evans. . . . This fine book will be a part of the foundation for Evans scholars to come.”—Doug Ramsey, Jazztimes

“Pettinger’s book is a reliable guide, but its chief asset is the late author’s insight and enthusiasm for a unique performer.”—Brian Priestly, Piano


The other biography “Bill Evans: Everything Happens To Me” (Publ. Group West, 2002) written by the British saxophonist Keith Shadwick is a detailed examination of Bill Evans as an important jazz musician. Divided into 16 chapters, it begins by placing Evans in the context of jazz piano in the mid 1950s. A full examination of his career follows, with all the key trios, as well as acclaimed festival and concert appearances, famous recording sessions, and his relationships with various record labels – including Riverside, Verve, Fantasy, and Warner Bros. The book ends with Evans’s early death in September 1980.

Keith Shadwick has been writing and broadcasting about music for over 25 years. In addition to books, reviews and radio programmes about classical music, he has written for newspapers from The Financial Times to The Daily Mail, and magazines from The Wire to Jazzwise. His jazz books include The Illustrated Story of Jazz and Jazz Masters of Style, and he contributed to Masters of Jazz Saxophone. He has programmed jazz for Classic FM International and is a consultant to Music Choice Europe.


With “Bill Evans, The Pianist as an Artist” (Continuum Books 2004), Enrico Pieranunzi provides a compelling look at this influential musician. Pieranunzi, a talented pianist himself, provides an insightful glance into the life of Bill Evans. More than simply providing biographical data, though, he shows how Evans became an such important figure in contemporary jazz. The Pianist as an Artist also discusses the drugs and psychological problems, but doesn’t dwell on them. Rather than sensationalizing Evans’ problems, Pieranunzi praises his musical accomplishments. Pieranunzi obviously covers some of Evans’ most important work, including his trio recordings with bassist Scott LeFaro and Drummer Paul Motian. This trio would prove to be a major period in Evans’ career. The interplay among these musicians allowed Evans to explore new musical territory. The Pianist as an Artist also shows that in spite of his quiet and intellectual demeanor, Evans definitely knew how to swing. (Kyle Simpler, All About Jazz)

Discography “Turn On The Stars” by Peter H. Larsen (out of print)

Peter H. Larsen (a music journalist and producer of the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra) wrote the very first discography about Bill Evans in book form in 1984. He produced in 2002 a tribute album “The Danish Radio Orchestra Plays Bill Evans” with pianist Jim McNeely as solist. From his foreword: “This book applies to very few people, I’m afraid. To take an interest in the content, you should not only be a passionate fan of the late jazz pianist Bill Evans’ music – you should almost be scientifically evolved with his work. Anyway, that’s friends have told me while I have been working on this discography, and I do admit that I could have spent my sparetime of he last twelve months more comfortable and obsessed with more profitable occupations. For him the stars wil be turned out forever. We, who survived him, have the possibility of turning some of them on again by listening to the music that he left with us.”

The Bill Evans Archive at the Southeastern Louisiana University

Noteworthy is the archive on Bill Evans at the Southeastern Louisiana University where Evans followed his musical studies from 1946 till 1950 and received his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance.

From 1980 till 1999 the trombonist, arranger, conductor, music researcher, educator, and broadcast manager Prof. Ron Nethercutt developed at the faculty the Bill Evans Archives. After the death of Bill Evans in 1980 Ron began collecting memorabilia in order to compile a reference center for pianists, musicologists, and others. He also wrote the liner notes of the album “Bill Evans Homecoming: Live At Southeastern Louisiana University” (Fantasy 1999), recorded live at Southeastern Louisiana State University, Hammond, Louisiana on November 6, 1979. He later contributed many articles for the quarterly newsletter “Letter From Evans” (26 issues: 1989-1994) by the well-known Evans historian and bassist Win Hinkle, author of “The Bill Evans Jazz Resource” and “Win’s Bill Evans Blog”. Ron was also the moderator for the initial annual Bill Evans Festival. Southeastern named Bill Evans its first “Alumnus of the Year” in 1969. The artist Ed Pramuk painted in 2002 a 14 feet mural “Turn Out The Stars” in the Recital Hall lobby of the Pottle Music Building of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA. The mural is in 3 parts, to mark the 3 instruments of the legendary Bill Evans Trio, piano, bass & drums. The center panel of the triptych features a silhouette of Evans at the piano.

Gretchen Magee

Bill studied theory and composition with Gretchen Magee (1914-2012), a well-loved teacher of piano and music theory at Southeastern and became deeply appreciative of her guidance. She studied with Nadia Boulanger, a prestigious teacher and composer in France. 

With a piece called “Very Little Suite” he appeared on the college platform as composer-performer. In his third year he produced a small masterpiece in waltz time that he called “Very Early.” Bill often called his college years at Southeastern ‘the happiest period of his life’. Bill Evans talking about Gretchen Magee in a letter to her: “I have always admired your teaching as that rare and amazing combination, the exceptional knowledge combined with the ability to bring these skills within a student for life. You were certainly my biggest inspiration in college, and the seeds of the insights that you have shown, has in practice worn many times fruit.”

A part of Bill Evans college transcript of the courses taken and grades earned. He graduated with honor June 1, 1950. His brother Harry was named as his guardian.
Piano recital by Bill Evans on April 30, 1948 at   Southeastern Louisiana College playing the Sonata no.11 op.22 by Ludwig van Beethoven and music by Claude Debussy.

“It was the happiest time,” he said, “because I had just turned 17, and it was the first time I was on my own. It’s an age when everything makes a big impression, and Louisiana impressed me big. Maybe it’s the way people live. The tempo and pace is slow. I always felt very relaxed and peaceful. Nobody ever pushed you to do this or say that. “Perhaps it’s due to a little looser feeling about life down there. Things just lope along, and there’s a certain inexplicable indifference about the way people face their existence.”

After 29 years, on the 6th of November in 1979, Bill Evans returned to perform at South Eastern Louisiana University. “I won’t try to go into what kind of special night this is for me” he told the audience. “Suffice to say that at least two of the four years I spent here were two of the happiest years of my life, and I owe a great deal to Southeastern and the faculty.”

Singing Piano (Article from TIME magazine, March 2, 1962)

Playing a club date one evening recently, Jazz Pianist Bill Evans slid unaccompanied into a fragilely twining song of his own composition titled Peace Piece. Afterwards, a teen-age fan rushed ecstatically up to the piano. “He told me,” recalls Evans with a faintly puzzled frown, “that when he heard it he felt like he was standing all alone in New York.”

In varying degrees Evans, 32, inspires the same feeling of apartness in all his fans. At the piano he seems transported, and some of the trance like visual effect rubs off on the customers.

In varying degrees Evans, 32, inspires the same feeling of apartness in all his fans. At the piano he seems transported, and some of the trance like visual effect rubs off on the customers. When he hunches his tall, spare frame over the keyboard, as he did last week in Manhattan’s Birdland, fixing his eyes on his belt buckle and stroking the keys with disembodied-looking fingers, he seems to be responding to promptings from far beyond the bandstand on which a bass and a drum plunk and sizzle quietly.The music itself often has a trancelike quality. A listener can find himself hypnotized by an Evans treatment of a familiar tune—My Man’s Gone Now or My Foolish Heart—because it contains no qualifications or showy embellishments. It is, as nearly as Evans can make it a simple and unadulterated musical idea.

The Evans audience is not large, but it is a distinguished one, including a large share of Evans’ fellow jazzmen. What Evans has returned most notably to the jazz piano besides simplicity is the long melodic line, which, says Evans, is “the basic thing I want in my playing because music is singing.” The influences pointing the way were Pianists Nat Cole and Bud Powell and Trumpeter Miles Davis. A New Jersey boy, Evans studied classical piano as a youngster, at twelve filled in one evening with a local dance band and was hooked on jazz. He played his way through Southeastern Louisiana College, there first heard the records of Saxophonist Lee Konitz and the Lennie Tristano school: “I felt for the first time as if I were hearing jazz played that hadn’t been learned by osmosis; they were making an effort to build something.”

After college, Evans gigged around, suffered through three unhappy years in the army, only began to win polls and influence people in 1958, when he spent almost a year with the Miles Davis Quintet. A shy and uncertain man, Evans was persuaded with great difficulty to record his first album for Riverside in 1956. The album was a hit, but he let more than two years pass before he would try another. “You can’t turn inspiration on and off,” he says. “You can only hit the supreme moments occasionally.” But the supreme moments, admits Evans, relaxing into a rare smile, have carried him a long way: “Music is the only thing that has dragged me through life.”

From “Turn Out The Stars”: The Final Village Vanguard Recordings 6 CD-Box set (© John Howard)