For Jazz Friday this week, I’d like to feature one of my favorite pianists of all time, Bill Evans (website)(Wikipedia). Evans was one of the pioneers of the modal jazz movement and a significant influence on Miles Davis with the Kind of Blue album (iTunes)(Apple Music), the best-selling jazz album of all time. I once read an article about how Davis used to call Evans just to ask him to play the piano over the phone. I believe it. I think Evans’s collaborations with Davis were some of his best, but Evans also did some pretty remarkable stuff in his solo career. One of my favorite compositions from Evans is “Waltz for Debby” (iTunes)(Apple Music). It has a little lilting melody that just makes you smile.
After leaving Miles Davis, Bill Evans had a solo career including several groups he put together through the rest of his life. No matter whom he played with, however, the music always showed his influence in those wonderful impressionist-inspired modal tones and themes. Aside from his work on the Kind of Blue album, my next favorite album from Evans is The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961 (iTunes)(Apple Music). That album gets a lot of play in my library.