EVANS INTERVIEW from August 1980
from the (MOLDE, NORWAY 1980) videotape by Jan Stevens
In the summer of 1980,
the last trio (with Marc Johnson, Joe LaBarbera) was in the midst
of a European tour which had them for two weeks at the famed RONNIE
SCOTT's in London, as well as performances in Germany, Belgium,
Norway and Italy. On August 9th, after a performance at the Molde
Jazz Festival , the pianist granted a brief interview after the
concert, filmed for Norweiegan television. (the interviewer's name
is not known) The following is a verbatim transcript by Jan Stevens,
taken directly from a poor-quality videotape copy of the event.
(Bill's comments are in bold font)
Bill Evans, you gave us a marvelous concert.
And I want to test you, and this is a blindfold test.
Are you ready?.
Yes. I'm ready.
[interviewer plays a few bars on a tape machine of an Evans recording
Oh sure, yeah, I remember that, I Love You from the
Thats many years ago.
Yeah, many, many years ago but I still enjoy that record.
Do you always listen to your own records?
Well, I didn't for many, many years. But then last couple of years
Ive been listening to my own records more and going all the
way back, trying to learn something. Because I did things then that
I don't do now and vice versa, and I, uh, I can hear myself now more
objectively, as another person would hear me, as I listen to my early
records. So I have been listening to myself more.
You did this record about 25 years ago?
That's right, thats right. Yes.
At the end of the fifties, you played with Miles Davis?
And you did a record with him too.
Yes, a couple of records, right, yes.
What record did you enjoy best, playing with Miles Davis?
Well, I enjoyed both the ones with Green Dolphin Street,
Stella By Starlight and Love for Sale. Then
there was also one they released recently that we didnt even know was being recorded. They called it Jazz at The Plaza
-- it was a party. What I liked about that recorded was it has Philly
Joe Jones still in the band, whereas Jazz Track with Green Dolphin Street and Kind of Blue
was with Jimmy Cobb. So this was an indication of how the band sounded
with Philly Joe and how it sounded with Jimmy Cobb. Of course, Kind
of Blue was the most popular of the three albums.
But how was it -- I heard you made Kind of Blue in
one day in studio.
Yes thats right, very quickly.
Was that a special experience for you?
Well yeah, of course, anytime you play with musicians like that,
its a special experience. But I think we all just do our professional
best, and perhaps that day the chemistry was, maybe, a little better
than usual or something. Because that you cant predict. What
you can do is to be a good professional; always do a good job
-- and sometimes things come together, so that its even a little
better than professional.
Do you have contact with Miles Davis these days?
Some. I saw him, well, now, it must be a year ago now, because Id
heard these rumors. There are so many rumors around, you know, that
Miles -- somebody told me he was very sick, and that they thought
he was dying, and then, hey, you know, I saw him and he looked wonderful.
I heard one some days ago that he was going to studio next week.
You always hear those rumors too. And then he might go to the studio
but he doesnt record, or he might not go into the studio, I
dont know. But all I know is that when I last saw him, he didnt
seem to have any intention of coming out and playing in public. He
might record, I dont know...
But you had a big trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian
And you always perform with trios.
And why is that?
Well, for me its a very pure group. But primarily, Im
more in control of the music. I can shape the music and I state the
theme, I keep the flow going -- and the way we work for instance,
theres no talking, its all done musically: indications;
an it becomes a totally musical experience for the group and also
the audience. If I just added a horn --now, I enjoy playing
with horns; I record with horns frequently -- but thats the
main reason. Even if I use one horn, it changes the whole concept,
because then, the thematic statements and all are out of my hands.
Yeah, um what do you think about the audience in Molde today?
Oh it was an excellent audience!
But I notice that the audience are young people today, more than
some time ago.
Yes, everywhere its the same, its maybe 80% young people.
Ya know, I think theyre discriminating young people,
or they wouldnt be here. Otherwise, they would go with
the masses and just, you know...
Why do you think young people listen more to jazz these days?
I think some young people want a deeper experience. Some
people just wanna be hit over the head and, you know, if then they
[get] hit hard enough maybe theyll feel something. You
know? But some people want to get inside of something and discover,
maybe, more richness. And I think it will always be the same; they're
not going to be the great percentage of the people. A great percentage
of the people dont want a challenge. They want something to
be done to them -- they dont want to participate. But
therell always be, uh, maybe 15% maybe, 15%, that desire something
more, and theyll search it out -- and maybe thats where art is, I think.
Does the audience response mean very much to you when you play?
Well... [pause] its not primary. It means a lot to me, but
primarily, I know whats happening. And sometimes when
I think its really happening, the audience -- they do
pick it up -- but they may not pick it up as strongly as I feel
it. And sometimes, I think nothings happening [chuckles]
and they still respond. And theyre right, because we
are professional and we are experienced, and therefore, were
able to do a certain degree, always.
Youve got almost a new trio.
Yes, this is almost two years now with this trio. I love this trio;
it's kind of a live trio -- the musics alive
with this trio. Its a wonderful trio, maybe the best one I ever
Do you compare the trios youve had...
Do you compare this trio to the one you had with Scott LaFaro
and Paul Motian?
Yes, I don't compare them qualitatively so much, but in, uh ....
characteristically, I think this trio resembles the first trio more
than any other trio Ive had. Definitely. This trio is related
to the first trio -- in some ways, the music is evolving and growing
of itself like the first trio. But all the trios Ive
had I love, and weve, ya know, Ive had a special experience...
[Bill looks at his watch, and pauses]
Yes. Its been very nice talking to you.
Now youre laughing. On the covers of your records, youve
-- its always the serious...
I know, I know, well, thats what they picture. They picture
me that way. If theres four pictures and three are smiling and
one is serious, they take the serious one. But we have to run to catch
a plane, Im afraid.
Yes, you now have to go to Italy.
Right. [gets up from the piano]
And I want to thank you very much.
[a photographer:] So do you have two seconds?
No, I really have to go. Didnt you have a chance during all
Yes, but wed like to have you by the piano...
No, its too late, Im sorry.