Bill Evans - Musicians, Facts and Life

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Bill Evans's Personal Details

Bill Evans was one of the most famous Jazz pianists of the 20th century who revolutionized Jazz

InformationDetail
BirthdayAugust 16, 1929
Died onSeptember 15, 1980
NationalityAmerican
FamousMusicians
City/StateNew Jersey
SpousesNenette Zazzara
SiblingsHarry Evans (Harold)
Universities
  • Southeastern Louisiana University
Birth PlacePlainfield, New Jersey, United States
GenderMale
FatherHarry
MotherMary Evans
Sun SignLeo
Born inPlainfield, New Jersey, United States
Died at Age51

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Bill Evans's photo

Who is Bill Evans?

William John Evans was an American Jazz pianist, composer and a pioneer of multi-track jazz recordings. Classically trained on flute, violin and piano, he chose jazz piano (specifically the jazz piano trio) as the instrument to exhibit his talent in music and demonstrated various techniques of rhythms through his several compositions. Evans is considered to be the major reformer of the harmonic language of jazz piano. His use of impressionistic harmony and polyrhythmic melodic lines inspired many pianists of his generation. His improvisations were completely dependent on motive development, either melodically or rhythmically. Evans greatly valued Bach’s music, which had a huge impact on his playing style. Many of his compositions have been played and recorded by several other artists. Although he always focused on improvisation, he never included new movements such as jazz fusion or free jazz in his compositions. He is considered to be the most influential pianist during post-World War II period.

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Childhood & Early Life

He was born to Harry and Mary Evans. His father was of Welsh descent while his mother was of Ukrainian ancestry. His father had many alcohol-related disorders which led to a troubled home atmosphere. He was two years younger than his brother Harold, with whom he maintained a very cordial relationship

At the age of six, he began his piano lessons along with his elder brother at Somerville, and also studied violin, piccolo and flute which had a deep impact on his keyboard style. Later, he went to take piano lessons in Dunellen with a local teacher Helen Leland.

In his high-school days, he got introduced to 20th century music like Stravinsky’s Petrushka, and Milhaud’s Suite Provencale. Around this time, he got his first exposure to jazz and also started playing in high-school band.

Later on, he started playing throughout New Jersey in musical gigs exploring various genres of music, especially boogie-woogie and polka. During this period he met George Platt, who introduced him to the harmonic principles of music.

In September 1946, he enrolled himself at Southeastern Louisiana University on a flute scholarship, where he received a comprehensive knowledge of classical piano interpretation. He also led the fraternity’s football team to a league championship as a quartet.

In 1949, he composed his first tune, ‘Very Early’ and was a founding member of American collegiate musical fraternity, ‘Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia’. Soon after, he formed his first trio with his friends, Connie Atkinson on bass and Frank Robell on drums, and played in clubs in New Jersey.

Career

In 1950, he graduated with high honors as a piano major receiving the Bachelor’s degree in music education. He performed Beethoven’s piano concert number 3 for his senior recital. In the same year, he formed a trio with guitarist Mundell Lowe and bassist Red Mitchell, and relocated to New York. However, low bookings forced them to leave for Calumet city, Illinois.

In July 1950, he collaborated with Herbie Field’s band based in Chicago and started to tour with them in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC. Soon he received conscription from the US Army and got placed in the Fifth army band at Fort Sheridan near Chicago for three years.

In 1954, he went back to New York after serving three years in the US Army, and started playing in Tony Scott’s quartet. In the same year, he undertook postgraduate studies at Mannes College of music.

In September 1956, he recorded his debut album, New Jazz Conceptions, featuring the original versions of "Waltz for Debby", and "Five". New Jazz Conceptions was initially a failure as it sold only 800 copies in the first year but received critical success.

In April 1958, he embarked on an eight-month gig with the Miles Davis’s sextet. Soon he made his first studio album, ‘Jazz Track’ with Davis but he left the sextet by November, as he became tired of high expectations. In December, he released the album ‘Everybody digs Bill Evans’ with Sam Jones and Philly Joe Jones, for which he received great attention.

By the fall of 1959, he formed a trio with Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums. It became one of the most acclaimed piano trios and soon they recorded their first album ‘Portrait in Jazz’.

In 1961, three albums were produced in a short span of time including ‘Explorations’, Oliver Nelson’s ‘The blues and the abstract truth’, ‘Sunday at the village vanguard’ and ‘Waltz for Debby'. The last two albums were the live recordings and are considered to be the greatest jazz recordings of all time.

In June 1961, Evans went into seclusion for almost a year because of the untimely death of Scott LaFaro in a car accident. He re-emerged the following spring with new bassist Chuck Israelis and released ‘Nirvana’ with Herbie Mann and his trio. Soon ‘Undercurrent’ followed in which he collaborated with Jazz guitarist Jim Hall.

In 1966, he released ‘Bill Evans trio with Symphony Orchestra’, which proved to be quite dull and his least significant recording. Soon, he discovered a Peurto Rican bassist Eddie Gomez who joined his trio and the year 1968 saw their most successful release ‘Bill Evans at the Monteux Jazz Festival’.

In 1968, drummer Marty Morell joined the trio and remained in the band until his retirement in 1975. This was Evans's most stable, longest-lasting group.

Major Works

In early 1955, he recorded ‘The Singing Reed’ with Lucy Reed, an American jazz singer. During this period he came across composer George Russell and his model jazz theory. In the following year, he worked with him in a series of recordings called ‘Jazz Workshop’.

In 1959, he came back to the Davis’s sextet to record the ‘Kind of Blue’, which is regarded as the best jazz album of all the time. It is also the highest-selling acoustic jazz album. It opened the whole new world of melodic and harmonic possibilities.

In 1962, after re-forming his trio, he released two albums ‘Moon Beams’ and ‘How My Heart Sings!’ In the same year, upon signing with Verve, he recorded ‘Conversations with Myself’, which was an instant classic for the Jazz community.

In 1971, he released ‘The Bill Evans Album’. Soon, other albums followed namely, ‘The Tokyo Concert’ (1973), ‘Since we Met’ (1974), ‘But Beautiful’ (1974). After Mart Morell left, Evans and Gomez recorded two duo albums, ‘Intuition’ and ‘Monteux II’.

In 1974, he recorded a jazz masterpiece entitled ‘Symbiosis’, which was written for him by Claus Ogerman. He also collaborated with singer Tony Bennett on ‘The Tony Bennett and "Bill Evans Album’ (1975) and ‘Together Again’ (1977).

In 1976, Eliot Zigmund was chosen to be the new drummer after going away of Morell. Together they released the album, ‘I will Say Goodbye’ and ‘You Must Believe in Spring’ in 1977.

In 1978, Gomez and Zigmund left the trio. Finally Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera were settled on bass and drums respectively. In the following year, he recorded his last studio album ‘ We will Meet Again’.

Awards & Achievements

His album ‘Conservations with Myself’ won him many awards including Grammy award (1963), Japanese swing general award (1967), and English melody maker award (1968).

In 1969, his alma mater, Southeastern Louisiana University, gave him ‘Distinguished alumnus award’, the highest award of its order. In the same year, he received the Grammy award for his album, ‘At the Monteux Jazz festival’.

He won three more Grammy awards for his albums, ‘Alone’ (1971), ‘The Bill Evans Album’ (1972), ‘I will Say Goodbye’ (1980) and ‘We will Meet Again’ (1980).

In 1994, he was posthumously honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Personal Life & Legacy

In late 1950s, he had his first long-term romance with a black woman Peri Cousins. It lasted until the end of the decade when they parted ways.

In 1960, he met a waitress named Elaine with whom he was in a relationship for twelve years. In 1963, they moved from his flat in New York and settled in his parent’s home in Florida. In 1973, she committed suicide due to her own infertility and Evan’s interest in a new woman, Nenette Zazzara.

In 1973, he married Nenette Zazzara and after two years of their marriage, they were blessed with a son, Evan. The new family also included Evan’s step-daughter Maxine but the marriage did not last - they remained quite close until his death.

In April 1979, he met a Canadian waitress Laurie Verchomim with whom he had a relationship until his death. She was 28 years younger than him.

His recordings from radio broadcasts in 1960 were posthumously issued as ‘The 1960 Birdland Sessions’, which his band had performed at the New York City hall.

Trivia

He was an avid reader and relished philosophy and humorous books.

He liked painting and drawing.

He had a liking for horse-racing and frequently gambled huge amount of money in horse-racing.

He was a cocaine-addict which led to his debilitating health and finally his death.

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Bill Evans awards

YearNameAward

Other

1968 - Grammy award
1971 - Grammy award

Bill Evans biography timelines

  • // 16th Aug 1929
    He was born to Harry and Mary Evans. His father was of Welsh descent while his mother was of Ukrainian ancestry. His father had many alcohol-related disorders which led to a troubled home atmosphere. He was two years younger than his brother Harold, with whom he maintained a very cordial relationship
  • // 1946
    In September 1946, he enrolled himself at Southeastern Louisiana University on a flute scholarship, where he received a comprehensive knowledge of classical piano interpretation. He also led the fraternity’s football team to a league championship as a quartet.
  • // 1949
    In 1949, he composed his first tune, ‘Very Early’ and was a founding member of American collegiate musical fraternity, ‘Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia’. Soon after, he formed his first trio with his friends, Connie Atkinson on bass and Frank Robell on drums, and played in clubs in New Jersey.
  • // 1950
    In 1950, he graduated with high honors as a piano major receiving the Bachelor’s degree in music education. He performed Beethoven’s piano concert number 3 for his senior recital. In the same year, he formed a trio with guitarist Mundell Lowe and bassist Red Mitchell, and relocated to New York. However, low bookings forced them to leave for Calumet city, Illinois.
  • // 1950
    In July 1950, he collaborated with Herbie Field’s band based in Chicago and started to tour with them in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC. Soon he received conscription from the US Army and got placed in the Fifth army band at Fort Sheridan near Chicago for three years.
  • // 1954
    In 1954, he went back to New York after serving three years in the US Army, and started playing in Tony Scott’s quartet. In the same year, he undertook postgraduate studies at Mannes College of music.
  • // 1955
    In early 1955, he recorded ‘The Singing Reed’ with Lucy Reed, an American jazz singer. During this period he came across composer George Russell and his model jazz theory. In the following year, he worked with him in a series of recordings called ‘Jazz Workshop’.
  • // 1956
    In September 1956, he recorded his debut album, New Jazz Conceptions, featuring the original versions of "Waltz for Debby", and "Five". New Jazz Conceptions was initially a failure as it sold only 800 copies in the first year but received critical success.
  • // Apr 1958
    In April 1958, he embarked on an eight-month gig with the Miles Davis’s sextet. Soon he made his first studio album, ‘Jazz Track’ with Davis but he left the sextet by November, as he became tired of high expectations. In December, he released the album ‘Everybody digs Bill Evans’ with Sam Jones and Philly Joe Jones, for which he received great attention.
  • // 1959
    By the fall of 1959, he formed a trio with Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums. It became one of the most acclaimed piano trios and soon they recorded their first album ‘Portrait in Jazz’.
  • // 1959
    In 1959, he came back to the Davis’s sextet to record the ‘Kind of Blue’, which is regarded as the best jazz album of all the time. It is also the highest-selling acoustic jazz album. It opened the whole new world of melodic and harmonic possibilities.
  • // 1960 To 1973
    In 1960, he met a waitress named Elaine with whom he was in a relationship for twelve years. In 1963, they moved from his flat in New York and settled in his parent’s home in Florida. In 1973, she committed suicide due to her own infertility and Evan’s interest in a new woman, Nenette Zazzara.
  • // 1961
    In 1961, three albums were produced in a short span of time including ‘Explorations’, Oliver Nelson’s ‘The blues and the abstract truth’, ‘Sunday at the village vanguard’ and ‘Waltz for Debby'. The last two albums were the live recordings and are considered to be the greatest jazz recordings of all time.
  • // Jun 1961
    In June 1961, Evans went into seclusion for almost a year because of the untimely death of Scott LaFaro in a car accident. He re-emerged the following spring with new bassist Chuck Israelis and released ‘Nirvana’ with Herbie Mann and his trio. Soon ‘Undercurrent’ followed in which he collaborated with Jazz guitarist Jim Hall.
  • // 1962
    In 1962, after re-forming his trio, he released two albums ‘Moon Beams’ and ‘How My Heart Sings!’ In the same year, upon signing with Verve, he recorded ‘Conversations with Myself’, which was an instant classic for the Jazz community.
  • // 1966 To 1968
    In 1966, he released ‘Bill Evans trio with Symphony Orchestra’, which proved to be quite dull and his least significant recording. Soon, he discovered a Peurto Rican bassist Eddie Gomez who joined his trio and the year 1968 saw their most successful release ‘Bill Evans at the Monteux Jazz Festival’.
  • // 1968 To 1975
    In 1968, drummer Marty Morell joined the trio and remained in the band until his retirement in 1975. This was Evans's most stable, longest-lasting group.
  • // 1969
    In 1969, his alma mater, Southeastern Louisiana University, gave him ‘Distinguished alumnus award’, the highest award of its order. In the same year, he received the Grammy award for his album, ‘At the Monteux Jazz festival’.
  • // 1971 To 1974
    In 1971, he released ‘The Bill Evans Album’. Soon, other albums followed namely, ‘The Tokyo Concert’ (1973), ‘Since we Met’ (1974), ‘But Beautiful’ (1974). After Mart Morell left, Evans and Gomez recorded two duo albums, ‘Intuition’ and ‘Monteux II’.
  • // 1973
    In 1973, he married Nenette Zazzara and after two years of their marriage, they were blessed with a son, Evan. The new family also included Evan’s step-daughter Maxine but the marriage did not last - they remained quite close until his death.
  • // 1974 To 1977
    In 1974, he recorded a jazz masterpiece entitled ‘Symbiosis’, which was written for him by Claus Ogerman. He also collaborated with singer Tony Bennett on ‘The Tony Bennett and "Bill Evans Album’ (1975) and ‘Together Again’ (1977).
  • // 1976 To 1977
    In 1976, Eliot Zigmund was chosen to be the new drummer after going away of Morell. Together they released the album, ‘I will Say Goodbye’ and ‘You Must Believe in Spring’ in 1977.
  • // 1978
    In 1978, Gomez and Zigmund left the trio. Finally Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera were settled on bass and drums respectively. In the following year, he recorded his last studio album ‘ We will Meet Again’.
  • // Apr 1979
    In April 1979, he met a Canadian waitress Laurie Verchomim with whom he had a relationship until his death. She was 28 years younger than him.
  • // 1994
    In 1994, he was posthumously honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Bill Evans's FAQ

  • What is Bill Evans birthday?

    Bill Evans was born at 1929-08-16

  • When was Bill Evans died?

    Bill Evans was died at 1980-09-15

  • Where was Bill Evans died?

    Bill Evans was died in Fort Lee, New Jersey, United States

  • Which age was Bill Evans died?

    Bill Evans was died at age 51

  • Where is Bill Evans's birth place?

    Bill Evans was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, United States

  • What is Bill Evans nationalities?

    Bill Evans's nationalities is American

  • Who is Bill Evans spouses?

    Bill Evans's spouses is Nenette Zazzara

  • Who is Bill Evans siblings?

    Bill Evans's siblings is Harry Evans (Harold)

  • What was Bill Evans universities?

    Bill Evans studied at Southeastern Louisiana University

  • Who is Bill Evans's father?

    Bill Evans's father is Harry

  • Who is Bill Evans's mother?

    Bill Evans's mother is Mary Evans

  • What is Bill Evans's sun sign?

    Bill Evans is Leo