Bill Evans Time Remembered
Updated: Jul 7
I recently saw a documentary called, “Bill Evans Time Remembered.” I watched it on FreeVee. I've been told it's also on Amazon Prime.
Man it was really, really good...and really sad. I thought it accurately dealt with his genius and his contributions to Jazz, but at the same time didn’t pull any punches about the fact that he was a horrible junkie. A huge percentage of the tragedy in his life was due to his heroin addiction.
In a previous blog, Inbred Guitar Culture I talked about how listening to players of other instruments besides guitar has made me a better guitar player. One of the players I talked about was Bill Evans. I said,
"...Bill Evans' Sunday at the Village Vanguard - or any Bill Evans. The duo records with Tony Bennett were significant to me as well as Bill's playing with Miles Davis in the Kind of Blue period. Again, no guitar anywhere. Bill Evans' two duo records with Jim Hall (one of my favorite guitarists) also directly informs my comping chops and ideas."
The Sunday at the Village Vanguard recordings represent an ideal - to me - of what a small jazz group should be doing. The effortless floating feel of everything yet the time is always there. I love that. I also mentioned,
"...my main teacher, John Elliott, was not a guitar player, he was a jazz pianist who, as an educator, produced many world-class jazz guitarists, including Pat Metheny. He inculcated a unique and very pianistic approach in his guitar students. He is by far my biggest influence, and he was not a guitar player."
It just so happens that one of John's main influences and musical idols was Bill Evans. Even John's horrible posture at the piano was similar.
Bill Evans died on September 15, 1980. That was a Monday. My lessons with John were on Fridays. John was not a happy camper that week! 4 days later and he was still bent out of shape about it. He blurted out,
"Heroin is the scourge of my generation!"
I remember thinking, "Every generation has a scourge" but I didn't say anything. I was too sensitive to John's mood.
When I first started studying with John, I briefly considered the possibility that he was a junkie; the mood swings from week to week seemed a little more extreme than normal. I abandoned the idea quickly though. The consistency of his work ethic was way beyond anything a junkie could maintain, in my experience. Six days a week he taught from 11:00-7:00, then grabbed something to eat, changed clothes and played a gig from 9:00-1:00 - for decades. Besides that, he lived to be 87. Bill Evans died at 51.
Anyway, check out the trailer to Bill Evans Time Remembered. If you have any interest it's worth your while to find and watch the whole thing.
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