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Bill Evans: The Quiet Passion Of Bill Evans (El / Cherry Red) Out now


5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)



A character in the recent smash hit movie “La La Land” – musically and fashion-wise – was influenced by real life jazz legend Bill Evans. Miles Davis described this man’s piano playing as a “quiet fire” that he loved.

In his short life-time – Bill died in September 1980, only 51-yearsold – the impact his music had on the world was immense, as a pianist and as a composer. He influenced many, many jazz artists and musicians and still does to this day, from the vast and versatile legacy he left behind on record and tape.

During his lifetime, William “Bill” John Evans was honoured with 31 Grammy nominations and seven Awards. In 1994, he was posthumously honoured with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

“The Quiet Passion of Bill Evans” is a delightful three-disc, box set anthology of collaborations, guest sessions and classic trio recordings made during the meteoric first seven years of the career of this extraordinary pianist.

Throughout the set, and in an eclectic range of musical contexts, we hear the sensitive, lyrical playing that placed Evans firmly among the all-time jazz greats; including sessions for such legends as Charles Mingus, Cannonball Adderley, Chet Baker, Michel Legrand, Helen Merrill and the Danish trombonist Kai Winding.

Also included is his work with progressive composer / arrangers such as George Russell, Earl Zindars, Bill Potts, Oliver Nelson and Tadd Dameron, and in collaboration with technicians of the calibre of Jim Hall, Freddie Hubbard, Shelly Manne and Bob Brookmeyer.

Then “Blue in Green”, an exquisite Evans contribution to Miles Davis’ monumental “A Kind of Blue”, and finally some of the deepest of musical statements in the elegant Scott LaFaro and Chick Israels incarnations of the Bill Evans Trio; one of the most influential of all jazz ensembles, led by “the most complete musician of our time”.

This wonderful and eclectic set offers up 45 tracks in total on the three discs, and there are many gems here. Featured are cuts from all of these artists, featuring Bill’s sublime skills: Lucy Reed, George Russell Sextet and with his Orchestra, Dick Garcia Quartet, Charles Mingus Sextet, Joe Puma Quartet, Eddie Costa Quartet, Helen Merrill with the Bobby Jaspar Quintet, Miles Davis Quintet, Michel Legrand Orchestra, Cannonball Adderley Quintet and with his Quartet.

Art Farmer Quintet, Chet Baker Septet, Bill Potts Big Band, Bob Brookmeyer, Tony Scott Quartet, Kai Winding Trombones, Oliver Nelson Sextet, Dave Pike Quartet, Tadd Dameron and his Orchestra, Shelly Manne / Bill Evans with Monty Budwig. There are also cuts from Bill solo, with quintet and his trio and in duo format with Jim Hall.

He was way ahead of the game technically when it came to recording his music; in  1963, Evans recorded “Conversations with Myself”, his ground breaking solo album using the technique of overdubbing over himself.

During the late 1970s, Evans became addicted to cocaine. His brother Harry’s suicide may have influenced his emotional state after 1979.On September 15, 1980, Evans, died in hospital in New York. The cause of death was a combination of peptic ulcer, cirrhosis, bronchial pneumonia, and untreated hepatitis.

Last word to fellow Jazz titan Miles Davis, who adored Bill’s playing. “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. I had to change the way the band sounded again for Bill’s style, by playing different tunes, softer ones at first”.


By Simon Redley





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