Is there a more beautiful sound on the planet than Bill Evans on the piano? I find it hard to believe having spent the month listening to a variety of Evans better known recordings from the fifties and early sixties
Yet in writing those sentences I realize that for a vast majority of the listening public Bill Evans evokes but a single one-word response… Who?
The world of jazz that was so dominate in popular culture from the twenties right up to the mid fifties is now a forgotten world. Basically if happened before The Beatles it might as well not have happened at all.
As a culture we have become obsessed with picking over the bones of the rock sixties at the expense of one of the most amazing musical forms ever created.
Possibly we no longer have the patience to just sit and listen to something that requires our full intention
Perhaps also we approach jazz with a feeling that it will be like a subtitled film somewhat ‘difficult’ and require some effort on our behalf.
Well you don’t have to worry about that with Evans. His lyrical work is blissfully melancholic and has poetic quality that reflects the Welsh side of his lineage.
Born in New Jersey in 1929, he died tragically at the age of 51 after decades struggling with heroin and cocaine addiction but he left behind a legacy of pure beauty that reminds us of what it means to be human. Suffering an abusive father, the suicide of his brother and the death of close musical associate Scott LaFaro, he turned that pain into a subtle and reflective harmonic language.
I’ll leave the last words to Miles Davis
“Bill had this quiet fire that I loved on piano. The way he approached it, the sound he got was like crystal notes or sparkling water cascading down from some clear waterfall”