Influences #2: Bill Evans

Influences #2: Bill Evans

All this month we’re featuring songs that mean something to Yoko. Her second selection this month is from Bill Evans’ 1961 live recording Sunday At The Village Vanguard.

Yoko says: “I remember putting on Bill Evans Sunday Live at the Village Vanguard for the first time. The first song was ‘My Foolish Heart’ and I liked it as soon as I heard the first couple notes. If you’ve been following my blog then you already know that Bill Evans is one of my primary influences on the piano. I think I feel a connection to him since he also played classical piano before switching his focus to jazz. His version of ‘My Foolish Heart’ on this recording is so achingly beautiful, I learned so many beautiful chord voicings from listening to it which are such a part of his distinctive sound. The way he just eases into the melody … eventually the rhythm section of Scott Lafaro and Paul Motian evolve from a supportive role to interacting together and the dynamic level and passion builds throughout the melody. Bill Evans then proceeds to play a historic example of just what a jazz solo should be. Although the song is a ballad he plays with such intensity and plays interesting rhythms with quite a density of notes. Bill Evans does this and plays the melody out with a beautiful ending. He says everything he needed to in less than five minutes, less really is more. It such depth and beauty and an underlying sadness, I never grow tired of listening to this version and each time I do I hear something new and fresh that I never noticed before.”

A few notes about this recording:

The album was recorded on June 25, 1961. The album draws from five different sets. This is the final recording by this trio. Ten days later, Scott LaFaro was killed in a car accident near Canandaigua, NY. Evans and producer Orrin Keepnews chose songs for the album that best displayed LaFaro’s playing. the album starts and ends with pieces written by LaFaro.

12 Responses

  1. John T. says:

    Yes, Yes, Yes, Yoko you hit the nail on the head when you said “less is more.’ Not only in music but in life as well. In America we have this disturbing trend where if we like something, or something is good and popular, we have to keep getting or giving more and more of it like we can never have enough of it, and too much of anything ruins it. The sizes of food get bigger and bigger, they make the same movies over and over, and people don’t have the ability to let music just settle into someone’s head and heart without making it loud and intrusive.

    Bill Evans was a genius and my favorite pianist( I grew up knowing Chick Corea’s parents and owning some of his furniture) because of his depth, beauty and subtleness. You described exactly why I listen to jazz completely when you said “I never grow tired of listening to this version and each time I do, I hear something new and fresh that I never heard before. That’s the beauty of jazz in that there is always something new.

    Great minds think alike!

  2. Yoko Miwa says:

    Thanks John and Happy New Year…and what you said 🙂

  3. Marc says:

    This recording is my spiritual-musical center. I have given the Sunday at the VV recording to at least 30 friends and family . Love it. Thank you.

  4. Peter and Deb Reinhart says:

    Yoko. Your reverence for Bill’s artistry and the inspiration you’ve drawn from it, informs not only your work; it has become a constant reminder of his legacy. Thanks for making beautiful music.
    Peter and Deb

    • Yoko Miwa says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words Peter and Deb! I can’t tell you how much it means, when I hear you words it gives me hope that someone gets what I’m doing. 🙂

  5. Ted Lilley says:

    I remember seeing Bill Evans at the VAnguard in 1965 with his hair so long and his head low down toward the piano. Jazz at its very best.

  6. Jack Coleman says:

    I used to see Bill Evans all the time at the Jazz Workshop sitting right in front. He would never say a word. Eddie Gomez on bass Paul Motian on drums. Purely magical. I wrote a letter to him asking him about voicings and he wrote back to me saying he was self taught and to go to New England Conservatory and learn voicings there. I still have the letter . A pure Master!

  7. Jos de Groot says:

    Thank you Yoko and your passionate friends, it’s heartwarming reading about the great names in jazz, thanks to your blog I’m learning more than ever before about jazz music. I’m also like to compliment your web design, it’s running beautiful on my iPad. Always a pleasure to visit your site and I bless the day I find out about you, your music and your warm personality. Chapeau for everything!

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