Bill Evans

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Plainfield, New Jersey
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William John Evans was a jazz pianist, composer, and pioneer of multi-track jazz recordings in the United States. Having received classical training on the flute, violin, and piano, he chose jazz piano (specifically the jazz piano trio) as the instrument on which to demonstrate his musical ability and demonstrated various rhythmic techniques through his numerous compositions. Evans is widely regarded as the primary innovator of jazz piano’s harmonic language. Many pianists of his generation were influenced by his use of impressionistic harmony and polyrhythmic melodic lines. His improvisations were entirely dependent on melodic or rhythmic motive development. Evans held a high regard for Bach’s music, which had a significant influence on his playing style. Numerous other artists have performed and recorded several of his compositions. While he emphasized improvisation throughout his career, he never incorporated new movements such as jazz fusion or free jazz into his compositions. He is widely regarded as the most influential pianist of the post-1945 era.

Childhood & Adolescence

Harry and Mary Evans gave birth to him. His father was Welsh, while his mother was Ukrainian. His father suffered from a variety of alcohol-related disorders, which contributed to a tumultuous home environment. He was two years younger than his brother Harold, with whom he had a close relationship.

At the age of six, he began piano lessons at Somerville with his elder brother. He also studied violin, piccolo, and flute, all of which had a significant influence on his keyboard style. Later, he enrolled in piano lessons in Dunellen with Helen Leland, a local teacher.

He was introduced to twentieth-century music during his high school years, including Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Milhaud’s Suite Provencale. Around this time, he was introduced to jazz and began playing in his high school band.

Later in life, he began performing in musical gigs throughout New Jersey, experimenting with various genres of music, particularly boogie-woogie and polka. He met George Platt during this time period, who introduced him to the harmonic principles of music.

He enrolled at Southeastern Louisiana University on a flute scholarship in September 1946, where he received a thorough education in classical piano interpretation. Additionally, he coached the fraternity’s football team to a league championship.

In 1949, he composed his first tune, ‘Very Early,’ and was a founding member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, an American collegiate musical fraternity. He soon formed his first trio with friends Connie Atkinson on bass and Frank Robell on drums and began performing in New Jersey clubs.

Career of Bill

In 1950, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in music education with high honors as a piano major. For his senior recital, he performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3.

In the same year, he relocated to New York and formed a trio with guitarist Mundell Lowe and bassist Red Mitchell. However, due to a lack of bookings, they were forced to depart for Calumet City, Illinois.

In July 1950, he joined Chicago-based Herbie Field’s band and began touring with them in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. He was soon conscripted by the United States Army and assigned to the Fifth Army Band at Fort Sheridan near Chicago for three years.

He returned to New York in 1954 after serving three years in the US Army and joined Tony Scott’s quartet. He began postgraduate studies at Mannes College of Music the following year.

He released his debut album, New Jazz Conceptions, in September 1956, featuring the original versions of “Waltz for Debby” and “Five.” New Jazz Conceptions began as a failure, selling only 800 copies in its first year, but quickly gained critical acclaim.

He began an eight-month stint with Miles Davis’s sextet in April 1958. Soon after, he collaborated with Davis on his first studio album, ‘Jazz Track,’ but he left the sextet in November, having grown tired of the sextet’s lofty expectations.

In December, he released the critically acclaimed album ‘Everybody Digs Bill Evans’ with Sam Jones and Philly Joe Jones.

He formed a trio with Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums in the fall of 1959. It quickly established itself as one of the most acclaimed piano trios, and they recorded their debut album, ‘Portrait in Jazz’, shortly thereafter.

Three albums were released in 1961: ‘Explorations’, Oliver Nelson’s ‘The blues and the abstract truth’, Sunday at the village vanguard’, and ‘Waltz for Debby’. The final two albums are live recordings and are widely regarded as the greatest jazz recordings ever made.

Evans entered seclusion for nearly a year in June 1961, following Scott LaFaro’s untimely death in a car accident.

He reappeared the following spring with new bassist Chuck Israelis and collaborated with Herbie Mann and his trio on the album ‘Nirvana.’ Soon after, he collaborated with jazz guitarist Jim Hall on ‘Undercurrent.’

In 1966, he released ‘Bill Evans trio with Symphony Orchestra,’ which was widely regarded as his least noteworthy recording.

Soon after, he discovered Puerto Rican bassist Eddie Gomez, who joined his trio, and their most successful album, ‘Bill Evans at the Monteux Jazz Festival’, was released in 1968.

Marty Morell joined the trio in 1968 and remained until his retirement in 1975. This was Evans’s most enduring and stable group.

Significant Works of Bill

In early 1955, he collaborated with Lucy Reed, an American jazz singer, on the recording of ‘The Singing Reed.’ He came across composer George Russell and his model jazz theory during this time period. He collaborated with him the following year on a series of recordings titled ‘Jazz Workshop.’

In 1959, he rejoined Davis’s sextet for the recording of ‘Kind of Blue,’ widely regarded as the greatest jazz album of all time. Additionally, it is the best-selling acoustic jazz album of all time. It unlocked a wealth of new melodic and harmonic possibilities.

He reformed his trio in 1962 and released two albums, ‘Moon Beams’ and ‘How My Heart Sings!’ in 1962. In the same year, he signed with Verve and released ‘Conversations with Myself,’ which became an instant jazz classic.

He released ‘The Bill Evans Album’ in 1971. Other albums followed shortly thereafter, including ‘The Tokyo Concert’ (1973), ‘Since we Met’ (1974), and ‘But Beautiful’ (1975). (1974).

Following the departure of Mart Morell, Evans and Gomez collaborated on two duo albums, ‘Intuition’ and ‘Monteux II’.

In 1974, he recorded ‘Symbiosis,’ a jazz masterpiece composed for him by Claus Ogerman. Additionally, he collaborated with Tony Bennett on the albums ‘The Tony Bennett and “Bill Evans Album’ (1975) and ‘Together Again’ (1976). (1977).

Eliot Zigmund was chosen to replace Morell as the drummer in 1976. They collaborated on the 1977 albums ‘I Will Say Goodbye’ and ‘You Must Believe in Spring’.

Gomez and Zigmund left the trio in 1978. Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera were finally chosen to play bass and drums, respectively. He released his final studio album, ‘We Will Meet Again’, the following year.

Awards and Accomplishments

His album ‘Conservations with Myself’ earned him numerous accolades, including a Grammy in 1963, a Japanese swing general award in 1967, and an English melody maker award in 1968. (1968).

In 1969, his alma mater, Southeastern Louisiana University, bestowed upon him the ‘Distinguished alumnus award,’ the order’s highest honor. The following year, he won a Grammy for his album ‘At the Monteux Jazz festival’.

He received three additional Grammy nominations for his albums ‘Alone’ (1971), ‘The Bill Evans Album’ (1972), ‘I Will Say Goodbye’ (1980), and ‘We Will Meet Again’ (1980). (1980). In 1994, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously.

Personal History and Legacies

He had his first long-term relationship with a black woman, Peri Cousins, in the late 1950s. It lasted until the decade’s end, when they decided to part ways.

In 1960, he met Elaine, a waitress with whom he had a twelve-year relationship. They relocated from his New York apartment to his parents’ home in Florida in 1963. She committed suicide in 1973 as a result of her infertility and Evan’s interest in another woman, Nenette Zazzara.

He married Nenette Zazzara in 1973 and they were blessed with a son, Evan, two years later. Maxine, Evan’s stepdaughter, was also included in the new family, but the marriage did not last – they remained quite close until Evan’s death.

In April 1979, he met Laurie Verchomim, a Canadian waitress with whom he had a relationship until his death. She was 28 years his junior.

His 1960 radio broadcasts were reissued posthumously as ‘The 1960 Birdland Sessions,’ which featured his band performing at New York City Hall.

Estimated Net Worth

Bill has an estimated net worth of $1million.

Trivia

He was an avid reader who particularly enjoyed philosophical and humorous works. He was a painter and a draughtsman. He had a fondness for horse racing and frequently gambled large sums of money on it. He was a cocaine addict, which contributed to his declining health and eventual death.