Bill Evans

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About Bill Evans

In the second half of the 20th century, few figures had a more profound impact on the development of jazz harmony and piano technique than Bill Evans. From the beginning of his career in the early ’50s, the New York City-based pianist embraced the influence of modernist classical music. In his career-making work with Miles Davis’ late-’50s sextet, Evans explored the unusually stacked chord voicings that would come to exemplify the modal jazz style—more reminiscent of Debussy and Ravel than bebop. Subsequently, Evans formed a storied trio with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian whose live and studio albums evidenced a forward-thinking, collectively minded approach to improvisation. Up until his death in 1980, Evans recorded in a variety of sizes and types of ensembles, from duos to symphony orchestras. As a soloist, he became one of jazz’s earliest experimenters with overdubbing (1963’s Conversations with Myself) and pushed into even more outré improvisational realms. Evans’ combination of impressionistic chording and lithe melodicism has influenced decades of jazz piano luminaries, including Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and Brad Mehldau.

Plainfield, NJ, United States
August 16, 1929
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