Waltz for Debby.
October 25, 2007 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Sad, head-down legendary jazz piano. (Single-link YouTube) More Bill and the Wiki. [Previously] Hopefully more of a reminder than a double.
posted by St Urbain's Horseman (37 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Sad? Perhaps, but beautifully so.
posted by rob511 at 5:35 PM on October 25, 2007

Explorations is one of my favorite albums. I had no idea Evans battled drugs, and am shocked by how he died. So sad.
posted by Pastabagel at 5:36 PM on October 25, 2007

More favorites than comments typifies the best of the web to me.
posted by isopraxis at 6:05 PM on October 25, 2007

Tried to sing to this once. Not easy...
posted by miss lynnster at 6:07 PM on October 25, 2007

Well, "sad, head-down legendary jazz piano" is the cliched description of Evans. This clip repudiates this reputation by showing him happily swinging. (Although without a Satchmo grin.)
posted by kozad at 6:14 PM on October 25, 2007

Yeah, this is one of the most beautiful pieces of jazz music ever. It is also very well recorded. I picked this up on 180 gm vinyl recently and it blows away the digital version I have. That could all be remastering etc. though.

Gil had something special, and his collaborations with Miles were some of Miles's best stuff like Kind of Blue which many people would say is the best jazz album of all time. Whatever you think, it sure is great and so is Gil.
posted by caddis at 6:18 PM on October 25, 2007

Evans is a giant, thanks for the links
posted by hortense at 6:20 PM on October 25, 2007

I have a god, I think. That god is Gil Evans. And he is a born Canadian.
posted by St Urbain's Horseman at 6:21 PM on October 25, 2007

Gorgeous. The video with Monica Zetterlund is beautiful. It has that whole kind of somewhat-artificial "casual jazz" feel but it's perfect for when you're at a coffee-shop-that-also-serves-beer wearing massive headphones connected to your laptop.
posted by mammary16 at 6:30 PM on October 25, 2007

I never tire of Bill Evans. Brilliant.
posted by thivaia at 6:31 PM on October 25, 2007

Folks, Gil Evans was great, and so was Bill Evans (the subject of St. Urbain's Horseman's post), and they both worked with Miles Davis, but they are not the same guy, or even related. Or am I missing something here?
posted by paulsc at 6:35 PM on October 25, 2007

Kind of Blue.
posted by St Urbain's Horseman at 6:40 PM on October 25, 2007

Evans wrote "Blue In Green".
posted by St Urbain's Horseman at 6:44 PM on October 25, 2007

Thanks for sharing this. I love it.
posted by snsranch at 7:11 PM on October 25, 2007

I'm watching the World Series so will postpone watching the clip, but I thank you for it in advance.
posted by languagehat at 7:18 PM on October 25, 2007

This should always garner a mention in any thread about Bill Evans: a piece from the New Yorker.
posted by sappidus at 7:21 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

Um, yes, BILL Evans. (Love Gil too, but come on.)

I'm a fanatic. When I first came across his music -- the Village Vanguard sessions with Scott LaFaro, which was the best Bill there ever was -- I found it so beautiful, I could barely listen to anyone else's music for a year. It opened a new emotional space inside me that has only grown with time.
posted by digaman at 7:48 PM on October 25, 2007

Jerry taught you well. ;-)
posted by St Urbain's Horseman at 7:52 PM on October 25, 2007

This is in fact my favourite song. I have never seen a video of it though. I too never knew that he battled drugs.
posted by ooklala at 7:56 PM on October 25, 2007

Cryptical Envelopment.
posted by St Urbain's Horseman at 8:07 PM on October 25, 2007

oooh, so exciting to listen to beautiful music I had no idea about. The word that comes to mind in writing about it is sublime. What a treasure of exploration ahead. Thanks so much for this post St Urbain's Horseman.

Weird to find out his mother was of Rusyn ancestry and so was Andy Warhol.
posted by nickyskye at 9:54 PM on October 25, 2007

If it has more than one YouTube link, it's not a "single-link YouTube" post. And don't even try to pull that aw-shucks sneaker-scuffing yall-prolly-aint-gonna-like-this shit with Bill Evans. Post it proudly. Assertively, even.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:57 PM on October 25, 2007

From the YouTube comments on the first link:
Bill Evans "The artist, because of his constant exposure to his craft, must fight to preserve the naivete that the layman already possesses."
Best YouTube comment evar.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:02 PM on October 25, 2007

Thanks St Urbain's Horseman for the excellent post. So many of those videos are a pleasure, especially if one compares the different periods of his career in which they were played. The amazing thing is that all these years later, so many who don't even like "jazz" somehow still fall in love with Bill Evans' unique ideas and beautiful sound. (I have often encountered this with my piano students) Lots of folks came through the mighty gates of 'Kind of Blue' or the Vanguard stuff.

However many Mefi's (and others on the Internets) have been so moved by the 1961 LaFaro-Motian trio, and rightly so, it surprises me that fewer are aware of the incredibly rarified and heroic music Bill recorded 'live' in his last two years on the planet. The "Last Waltz" CD box set as well as"The Paris Concert Edition One" -- with Johnson and LaBarbera -- are a good start, and are filled with some huge surprises for certain Evans fans only familiar with the earlier stuff: harder swinging, using the whole instrument, astonishing versions of ballads played like his life depended on them -- which I think was likely true by 1979; those who knew said he seemed to be living just to play. Yes, there is also the vibrant exuberance on display with bold new colors in this later work, and a wider harmonic color palette, and yet still the gorgeous, familiar pastels he was known for.

Just like Bird or Trane or Stravinsky or Gershwin, the magic lives on, transcending time.

Bill is forever.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 10:59 PM on October 25, 2007

When I get the urge for high-quality pork sausage links with a farm-fresh taste, I always turn to Bob Evans.
posted by pracowity at 11:18 PM on October 25, 2007

Waltz for Debby is an extraordinary record, but I much prefer Sunday at the Vanguard.

Upon hearing it the first time, I was struck by the virtuoso bass player. Technically brilliant and emotionally moving, I put "Solar" on repeat for awhile.

Eager to hear more, I took to the liner notes and did a bit of research.

Decades after the fact, Scott LaFaro's tragic death hit me like a brick. I choked back tears as I read about it. Even now, with "Alice in Wonderland" playing as I type this, it's hard not to well up a bit.
posted by aladfar at 11:47 PM on October 25, 2007

Yes! aladfar, seconding the virtuoso bass player.
posted by nickyskye at 11:52 PM on October 25, 2007

And before it's pointed out: I realize both albums were recorded at the same Vanguard date, I just ever so slightly prefer "Sunday".
posted by aladfar at 11:54 PM on October 25, 2007

Sappidus: Thank you for linking to that New Yorker piece - I'd not read it before. At the risk of turning this into a Scott LaFaro thread (though the two musicians are inextricably linked) I just have to copy the last paragraph for those to lazy to read the piece in its entirety:

One of the mysteries of Evans's career is that, after that Sunday, he continued to play "Porgy" over and over again, almost obsessively - but almost always as a solo number. Paul Motian gave this some thought. "I don't think there was any reason - no, wait, I remember something now. While we were listening to that number on the tape, Bill was a wreck, and he kept saying something like 'Listen to Scott's bass, it's like an organ! It sounds so big, it's not real, it's like an organ, I'll never hear that again.' Could that, his always playing it without a bass afterwards have been a sort of tribute to Scott? I kind of doubt it, but then again maybe so." When we hear Evans play "Porgy," we are hearing what a good Zen man like Evans would have wanted us to hear, and that is the sound of one hand clapping after the other hand is gone.
posted by aladfar at 12:03 AM on October 26, 2007

If you're interested in Scott LaFaro, you should check Charles Ralston's site.
posted by pracowity at 12:33 AM on October 26, 2007

I always thought his liner notes for Kind of Blue were a very elegant and well-written reflection on the jazz improvisor's art, in layman's language. They are reprinted here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:08 AM on October 26, 2007

I believe the bassist in the video is Chuck Israel.
posted by liam at 10:56 AM on October 26, 2007

When I get the urge for high-quality pork sausage links with a farm-fresh taste, I always turn to Bob Evans.
posted by pracowity at 2:18 AM on October 26 [+] [!]

What about Jimmy Dean?
posted by caddis at 11:14 AM on October 26, 2007

Oh, my, Bill Evans. There are times listening to him that I involuntarily stop breathing - it's as though my body knows nothing should interfere with hearing him play.
posted by goofyfoot at 1:06 PM on October 26, 2007

Thanks for the great links and discussion, folks. I love me some Bill and it is nice to know that he is remembered here as well.
posted by St Urbain's Horseman at 4:35 PM on October 26, 2007

What It Takes

He stared for hours
at the cat
taking his ease under the calla leaf
or fog
pour in late afternoon
whelming the tower on the hill

how bird truck or shout
scored day the way the music
roll in a nickelodeon's scored
and what it played in the mind

or the young Bill Evans
before Scott LaFaro died
My Foolish Heart
again and again
fennel, lobelia shadow&flies
however many times it takes

~August Kleinzahler
posted by FunGus at 3:16 AM on October 27, 2007

His music hints at the secret truth that New York is sad before it is busy, and that it is a kind of inverted garden, with all the flowers blooming down in the basements.
-Adam Gopnik (New Yorker Article)

Don't you just love that?
posted by jsteffensen at 6:37 PM on October 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

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