Saturday, September 4, 2010
Bill Evans (and Monk Too)
A few days ago I electro-bopped over to Jay Stevens' website devoted to Bill Evans and discovered he was soliciting personal comments documenting, approximately,
"What Bill has meant to me." I figured I qualified for that one, so I wrote a simple but fanciful few paragraphs and click-shipped them off... but soon had the brief assembled piece rejected because, in Stevens' words, "it includes Monk on almost an equal basis with Bill, and this is not about Monk (his brilliance notwithstanding) whatsoever."
Waste not, want not. The rejection gives me a chance to expand a bit and speak up right here rather than via another's elsewhere--my lightweight "idea" maybe too droll, but I hope still of passing interest:
I come to praise Bill, not to bury him. Or not exactly...
I've been listening to Evans (and Monk as well) since the early Sixties when a college dorm guy from the room opposite who played some Jazz piano introduced me to albums by the two, and showed me their basic differences at the keyboard: Monk dissonant and percussive, Bill lyrical and caressive. Where Thelonious strode, Evans tiptoed. While Bill slumped at the keyboard, his fingers dancing figuratively, Monk literally rose from the bench and shuffled about. One used his hands like blunt hammers shaping his bluesy originals; the other sketched ballad standards deftly and impressionistically. And I loved them both.
In all the years since, no other pianist has displaced Evans for long from my turntable or Monk at all from my soul.
I'm just a fan, mere and mortal, no maharajah or merchant prince, but I'd hope that my ashes eventually--I'm in no hurry--are buried right alongside the giant Riverside box sets by both pianists. They'll provide good company for the centuries of solitude ahead, and be just the right artifacts for some visiting alien archeologists to dig up and decipher a thousand years from today.
I bet those creatures too will dig Bill Evans (and smile listening to Monk), just as everybody else has over the decades--explorations and
conversations, dreams and moon beams, portraits and corners and concert performances across the world and, maybe, beyond...
Bill's album said it best: You must believe in Spring.