BILL EVANS - 80th BIRTHDAY TRIBUTES AND EVENTS logo

PAST TRIBUTES: Read the 75th birthday (2004) one here by Jan Stevens and this one from 2006 - as well as this one from Win Hinkle in 2005.

And remember to read, if you haven't already, the very touching "September 15, 1980" by Laurie Verchomin (Bill's last ladyfriend with whom he lived in his last months) ...


SEND EVENT INFO OR TRIBUTES TO US HERE. We'll have them online on this page ASAP. This feature will run through September 15th, (the date Bill passed in 1980) just so you know...



bill evans 74WKCR-FM (89.9 FM Radio) N
ew York

"Jazz Profiles: Bill Evans

Sunday August 16, 2PM - 7PM E.D.T.)

The program will devote it's entire program to the music of Bill Evans.

You can listen online too! GO to their website for archive listening




 

A Tribute to Bill

by Mike Harris

Back in the 1980's,  when I was working on the Hubble Space Telescope by day, and listening to Bill Evans at home in the evening, it occurred to me that while the Hubble was (hopefully) going to provide mankind our best guide to the outer universe of planets, stars, and galaxies,  it was surely the legacy of Bill Evans that he had guided so many of us on our path to the inner universe.

How often, in the course of reading interviews with people both within and outside the musical field, have I encountered some variation of the same basic tale---"I was well on my way to becoming" (fill in the blank here) "when I first heard the music of Bill Evans, and it changed my life forever!"

If the individual was a musician, then perhaps they decided then and there to dedicate themselves to the jazz life.  For others, the epiphany may have taken the form of a deeper awareness of the need to develop their own spiritual awareness, whatever the chosen form. But whatever the specifics, there would appear to exist a specific cast of mind for whom the initial confrontation with Evans' music constituted an enduring call to strengthen and elaborate their own relationship to beauty.

For those so afflicted, the release of each new Evans recording was a major emotional event,  the opportunity to hear for the first time a new Evans composition, or perhaps a reworking of some formerly nondescript tune which he would transform, by his unique alchemy, into a magical trip through previously unimaginable chord-changes and voicings.

Bill used to speak of the ability of music to show people a part of themselves that they never knew existed,  and his music surely did that for me. There is in that music a profoundly mysterious power to penetrate to the very core of the listener's consciousness, a power that, defying all our paltry efforts, cannot possibly be put into words, but that nevertheless exists just as surely as the changes that he generated in the lives of so many others.


Reflections on Bill Evans 80th
by Bruce Branigan

 

Why is it that Bill Evans’s music was and is so indelible?

I believe that the 20th Century is itself one of the great summits in all of musical history. It may be said of 20th Century music: so much talent, so little time, interacting under such unique circumstances that in many ways have both faded and irrevocably changed. Until then music was never before preserved as we now know it -in both audio and video formats.
To any listener who wants to make the investment of time and who has cultivated any of the basic musical listening tools required to appreciate 20th Century music, Bills voice is a singularly unique one.

There are many ways this could be argued, here are 4 of them. No one who came close to Bills level of success:

1.  Achieved and sustained such a compelling jazz feel and a sensibility playing rubato.

 

2.  Achieved and sustained a jazz trio with such exceptionally high participatory excellence. This involved varied partners, operating at a consistently high level and stretching over a twenty- year career.

 

3.  Achieved and sustained such unequaled devotion to the “Great American Songbook” as documented by his copious recordings.

 

4.  Recorded Grammy -winning jazz piano overdubs with himself based solely on skill – without digital or other technological trickery.

 

Every successful musician has to have taste, chops and must be distinctive, and Bill had all these qualities in abundance. One can talk forever about melody, harmony, Lydian modes and many other technical aspects of Bills playing that made it unique, but I would suggest that Bill’s best musical measure is on a personal level. Ask those who listen to Evans and love his music, and almost to a person, they will tell you the same thing: Bills music seems to speak to his listeners at a very personal level. Everyone has the same sonic impression – which is that this music was crafted expressly for them and is speaking directly and personally to them at some uniquely deep and emotional level. This is the end result of the natural musical vocabulary Bill accumulated, and spoke so fluently.

 

Upon careful listening, you may have heard something you never expected and yet it was also so natural and flowed so well that you might also say “Of course! why didn’t I ever hear it that way before?”. Then after hearing it “that way”, it becomes a distinctive musical yardstick. It might be said that the definition of jazz is improvised spur –of-the -moment music that sounds like each note belongs to the first, the next and all the other ones up to the last. This is exactly how Bill most often played.

 

Evans was not just a champion of the American Songbook but also of some of its’ most beautiful and overlooked tunes. The potential of these tunes is often - even now -dismissed. Consider “The Touch of Your Lips” and “Reflections in D” -- to me one of Duke Ellington’s most beautiful of his over 1500 songs. Consider also even the better- known Gershwin tune “I Loves You Porgy”. All of these tunes surged from Bill’s fingertips like deep rivers – at once far deeper than many would have seen them, as unique as a fingerprint and with almost unfathomable taste and appeal to the trained or untrained ears of both players and listeners.

 

Bill would have been 80 on August 16th, but he left us in 1980, and he will be gone an almost incomprehensible twenty-nine years on September 15th, 2009. To borrow a line from a Cole Porter song he recorded a few times, “After you, Who?” -- as in who will or could have the same pervasive influence? Very few have – Art Tatum did, Oscar Peterson probably will too. It is likely that many of the rest, even at their very best will unfortunately only be known to the most devoted of jazz pianists and listeners. Bill Evans is and will remain a permanent face on the Mount Rushmore of jazz piano. Very few will be found there after they’re gone.

 


My Tribute
by Jack Reilly

Jack ReillyBill Evans' legacy will continue to grow and remain at the top or near the top in the pantheon of great composer-pianists of all time. As a composer, he is our Brahms, Chopin, Schumann, Schoenberg, Webern, Berg.

As a pianist, he is our Hoffman, Horowitz, Lipati, Janis, Rachmaninoff. As a jazz innovator he is light years beyond all the greats of the last hundred years.

He is authentic!

jackreillyjazz.com


Bill Evans Tribute Concert by Gerard D'Angelo
Five Towns College, Dix Hills, Long Island, NY
October 30th, 7:30 P.M.

Tickets are $20.00 each, and can be obtained at the Dix Hills Performing Arts Center there (Go here for a description & ticket buying link) . The organizer and main performer icollege professor, prof'essional musician and 5 Towns College Alumni, Gerard D'Angelo.

Five Towns College is very close to the Long Island Expressway, NY jjust north between Exits 51 & 52,

D'Angelo trio

Please submit any Bill EvansTributes info you may have here

 

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