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Mr. Evans

Mr. Evans

My latest tune titled Mr. Evans is a tribute to one of the greatest and most influential pianists and jazz musicians of all time. Most people who are familiar with Bill Evans became aware of him through the 1959 Miles Davis album Kind of Blue – which remains the biggest selling jazz album to this day.

A little more investigation will reveal that Bill Evans was a major icon of jazz and 20th century American music. He left us in 1981, at the age of 51, with a huge catalog of recorded work – both as a leader and a sideman. As a pianist, Evans had a more romantic style than many of his peers due to his studies in classical music.

Bill Evans’ compositions quickly became standards of the jazz canon. When I think of Bill Evans, two things immediately come to mind: jazz trios and waltzes. In fact, his trios contained some of the greatest bass innovators including Chuck Israels, Scott LaFaro, Eddie Gomez and Marc Johnson.  Two of his most well-known compositions, Waltz for Debbie and Very Early are in ¾ time. It is in this spirit of the waltz and the jazz piano trio that my composition Mr. Evans came to be.

Mr. Evans began one evening last summer. I was at home alone and feeling kind of melancholy. I sat down at the keyboard and the first phrase and chords came out. I liked it and added a second phrase. Feeling inspired, I opened up my DAW and continued composing and recording the tune one phrase at a time. It wasn’t until nine months later that I revisited the ideas and decided it would make a great waltz. That’s when the Bill Evans influence really struck me and bam! I had a title.

I built the drum part from loops and then worked on the track a section at a time with piano and fretless bass. Like most bass players, I can’t help but being influence by Jaco Pastorius when I play fretless.

The cover art for Mr. Evans contains a painting in the abstract expressionist style. Evans and saxophonist Stan Getz used paintings by Puerto Rican abstract expressionist Olga Albizu for album covers in the 1960s. I thought something in that style would be fitting.

So there’s a little backstory on this tune and, lest I forget, here’s the link to download it from CD Baby! I also hope that it inspires you to explore the music of Bill Evans. May I suggest the 1962 album Waltz for Debbie as a starting point.

I leave you with a quote from the man himself. "My creed for art in general is that it should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise...a part of yourself you never knew existed."  - Bill Evans

Mike Claiborne
May 2016

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