Broken Time
August 6, 2018 6:16 AM   Subscribe

In "Broken Time: 'Nardis' and the Curious History of a Jazz Obsession", MeFi's own Steve "digaman" Silberman brings us the story of the "Pale, bespectacled, and soft-spoken" jazz pianist Bill Evans and his obsession with Miles Davis's modal composition "Nardis". Evans recorded more than a dozen versions over the next twenty-plus years and played it countless times live. Davis never recorded the song himself, and said that only Evans played it "the way it was meant to be played".
posted by Etrigan (14 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Bookmarked for later. Everything digaman writes is worth a read.
posted by terrapin at 6:33 AM on August 6, 2018

This is fabulous. I love a good Jazz yarn and I love Steve. Thanks for sharing.
posted by gyusan at 7:12 AM on August 6, 2018

WOW. The depth and variation in these interpretations. Just... wow.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:34 AM on August 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Jesus, I'd never heard that one from just after LeFaro died. What a world. Thanks for posting this.
posted by saladin at 7:53 AM on August 6, 2018

Fantastic article about a fantastic piece of music and artist. I've listened to a few different versions while reading the article (the original Cannonball session and two different Evans takes) and will be spending the rest of the afternoon with every take I can get my hands on.
posted by Dysk at 8:07 AM on August 6, 2018

Interesting essays. Adderley is held to a pretty high standard here; they all mention how awful his band's version is, but it's still better than a lot of other stuff. But yeah, it's inferior if you compare it to something like 'Kind of Blue'...
posted by ovvl at 8:48 AM on August 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

From the "versions over the next twenty-plus years" link:

No one has succeeded in guessing what the name ‘Nardis’ meant.

I've heard for years that it's Ben Sidran's name backwards...?
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:42 PM on August 6, 2018

That was wonderful, thanks.

Re: Sidran, there's a quote from him in the article about the provenance of the title, but it says he spoke "somewhat implausibly," so....
posted by hap_hazard at 4:16 PM on August 6, 2018

I can imagine Miles saying, "He plays it the way it was meant to be played!" while thinking to himself, "yeah, 'by someone else.'"
posted by rhizome at 5:01 PM on August 6, 2018

somewhat implausibly

Evans seems to have been fond of anagrammed name song titles, but he himself says he didn't write "Nardis", so (unlike with "Donna Lee" and "Blue In Green" and "Solar") I see no reason to doubt that Miles Davis did write it. Which means that Evans' wordplay habits are irrelevant.

Still, the Sidran theory seems at least more plausible than the story quoted from Gioia's book ("I'm an artist").
posted by thelonius at 5:12 PM on August 6, 2018

Thanks, Evan's music is so beautiful.
posted by PHINC at 5:57 PM on August 6, 2018

Because I'm a dilettante who got into jazz via My Favorite Things but don't really interact with jazz "fandom" as it were , I completely missed out on Evens' solo work. Now I'm obsessed with this.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:30 PM on August 7, 2018

It's a shame that the trio didn't do "Nardis" in that legendary weekend at the Village Vanguard. More is the pity that other live dates the trio played didn't get on tape.
posted by Ber at 10:45 AM on August 9, 2018

They're easy to pass over hidden behind links — some of them dead — on a page full of music player widgets, the "versions over the next twenty-plus years" link from the post, but these videos of performances of “Nardis” are each in their own way worth the time.

London, 1965 [5:16] — Israels and Bunker

Finnish TV, 1970 [12:39] — Gomez and Morell [Includes a short interview]

Umbria Jazz, 1978 [7:54] — Johnson and Jones

The Maintenance Shop, Iowa State University, 1979 [13:38] — Johnson and LaBarbera
posted by ob1quixote at 9:56 PM on August 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

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