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#1881326 - 04/17/12 05:33 PM Bill Evans Documentary
venice1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/11
Posts: 22
Hi all,

Never posted before but I think this 1966 documentary, "The Universal Mind of Bill Evans," is a worthy mention and some will definitely enjoy it. It was recently posted on the following website and can be viewed for free:

http://www.openculture.com/2012/04/the_u..._play_jazz.html

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1881472 - 04/17/12 10:22 PM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
Scott Prell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/30/04
Posts: 101
Loc: Diamond Bar, CA
That was fantastic. Thanks for the link!
_________________________
"Amateurs practice until they get a piece right. Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong."

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#1881495 - 04/17/12 11:13 PM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
venice1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/11
Posts: 22
You're welcome Scott. As a beginner, I found a number of his thoughts concerning the relationship between jazz and classical very interesting, such as he stated near the 6:49 mark of the documentary:

"... but I think it's more of a revival in a different form of what went on in classical music before. In other words, in the 17th Century there was a great deal of improvisation in classical music..."

I was also impressed by his assertion that simplicity and structure were key elements in his development and later he stresses that it took much time and labor before he was able to achieve a certain level of play as he wasn't as talented as others, something on the scale of 20 years from when he first started playing at age 6.

Anyway, I wish there more exchanges/interviews such as this one.



Edited by venice1 (04/18/12 12:21 AM)

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#1881638 - 04/18/12 08:55 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2993
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
Look up Bill Evans will Marian Mc Partland on NPR Jazz. He will walk you you his thought process when playing something like 'the touch of your lips' its mind blowing. McPartland, who is a fantastic pianist is caught saying "wow" while Bill demonstrates.
Later, she joins him for a duet.

Also take a look at Dave Frank's Masterclass on Bill Evans, he will walk you through some of the technique Bill might have used on a tune like 'A time for love'.

Finally, there are books for beginners that will get you playing some of bills composition, played in his style. Look at Andy Laverne's book of Bill Evans' tune. Beautifully arranged.

++

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#1881675 - 04/18/12 10:23 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
venice1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/11
Posts: 22
Thanks for the encouragement, suggestions and resources knotty. I do have a piano teacher and will inquire about possibly incorporating any of the above if appropriate for the time being. The short minuet I'm currently working on is quite a challenge as it is.

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#1882173 - 04/19/12 06:09 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
Originally Posted By: venice1


I was also impressed by his assertion that simplicity and structure were key elements in his development and later he stresses that it took much time and labor before he was able to achieve a certain level of play as he wasn't as talented as others, something on the scale of 20 years from when he first started playing at age 6.

Anyway, I wish there more exchanges/interviews such as this one.



Many thanks venice for joining this forum and for posting this video.
It was one of the best videos I've ever watched.
What an intelligent, analytical and humble gentleman.

Some of the key points for me were:

1. Evans' approach to music was a process of analysis followed by intuition. The structure of this process of improv is the mastering of a thing explicitly prescribed in order to burn it into the subconscious for later use.

2. Most don't understand the immensity of the problem so they either quit or they rush.

3. Do not approximate the final product. Be very real, clear, analytical at every level, however elementary your level.

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#1882222 - 04/19/12 08:36 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1341
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
A Bill Evans video tip. This is imo some of Bill's best playing, the interplay between them is marvellous.
_________________________

I never play anything the same way once.

https://soundcloud.com/chrisb/sets
https://www.youtube.com/user/djboing/videos

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#1882439 - 04/19/12 03:04 PM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: custard apple]
venice1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/11
Posts: 22
Certainly custard and you're welcome. So far I've enjoyed reading the vast amount of posts but have been hesitant to jump into the fray as many of the posts on this site are informative and instructive. In fact, I can't keep up with a good percentage of them.

As far as Mr. Evans is concerned, it's too bad he wasn't with us longer but what he left us is more than most will ever contribute. Your, "What an intelligent, analytical and humble gentleman" can also be applied to his NPR interview with Marian McPartland referred to by knotty.

It will take me a few years to grasp what he and others truly say about piano playing and music in general, but I really expect it to be a long memorable journey. The three key points you stated about the video are on the money. Trying to apply them hopefully won't be too daunting of a task.


Edited by venice1 (04/19/12 03:06 PM)

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#1882821 - 04/20/12 06:11 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: chrisbell]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
Originally Posted By: chrisbell
A Bill Evans video tip. This is imo some of Bill's best playing, the interplay between them is marvellous.


Thanks for this Chris, I really liked Elsa, I didn't know this beautiful tune before. The trio seemed to have such a great understanding of each other's rhythm.

Was Bill totally self-taught in jazz ?

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#1882826 - 04/20/12 06:24 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1341
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Not to be one to perpetrate any myths smile
I recommend reading this book: http://www.amazon.com/Bill-Evans-How-Heart-Sings/dp/0300097271



Edited by chrisbell (04/20/12 06:29 AM)
_________________________

I never play anything the same way once.

https://soundcloud.com/chrisb/sets
https://www.youtube.com/user/djboing/videos

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#1882859 - 04/20/12 07:52 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: chrisbell]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
I will definitely order this tomorrow.

I'm on holidays in May and have lots of time to read.

I see from the Amazon sampler that the author interviewed Art Farmer, that's very cool as Art was never scared to give his opinion.
Also the last chapter is on Letter to Evan, I played Andy LaVerne's beautiful arrangement of this.

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#1883304 - 04/20/12 10:52 PM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: chrisbell]
Scott Prell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/30/04
Posts: 101
Loc: Diamond Bar, CA
Thanks for the vid, ChrisBell. I watched it streaight through -- felt like I was in a beloved jazz club!
_________________________
"Amateurs practice until they get a piece right. Professionals practice until they can't get it wrong."

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#1883441 - 04/21/12 04:54 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1341
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Just happy to pass it forward.
Jazz 625 was a unique TV-series, you can find T Monk and many others on the show.
_________________________

I never play anything the same way once.

https://soundcloud.com/chrisb/sets
https://www.youtube.com/user/djboing/videos

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#1889143 - 04/30/12 11:47 PM Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Venice1

Before this thread, and therefore that wonderful interview, gets relegated to the "second browsing page" and beyond, I would like to bump it back up to the top.

I had almost forgotten how erudite Steve Allen was - what elegant expression! And the brief look into the mind of the then-young Bill Evans is absolutely priceless!

Thank you,
Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1889207 - 05/01/12 03:15 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: LoPresti]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4776
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Venice1

Before this thread, and therefore that wonderful interview, gets relegated to the "second browsing page" and beyond, I would like to bump it back up to the top.

I had almost forgotten how erudite Steve Allen was - what elegant expression! And the brief look into the mind of the then-young Bill Evans is absolutely priceless!

Thank you,
Ed

Steve Allen was one of my favorite people. He was fearless about trying almost anything. I think the term "Renaissance man" is overused, but Allen certainly was one!
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1889295 - 05/01/12 08:35 AM Bill Evans Documentary [Re: Gary D.]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Gary D.
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
. . . . . I had almost forgotten how erudite Steve Allen was - what elegant expression!

Steve Allen was one of my favorite people. He was fearless about trying almost anything. I think the term "Renaissance man" is overused, but Allen certainly was one!

Words to live by, Gary!
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1890921 - 05/04/12 08:12 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: LoPresti]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
Originally Posted By: LoPresti
Venice1

Before this thread, and therefore that wonderful interview, gets relegated to the "second browsing page" and beyond, I would like to bump it back up to the top.



I don't want to see this Bill Evans thread die either.

http://youtu.be/0lZRf0p8Bmk

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#1891056 - 05/04/12 11:53 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
erichlof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 369
Revealing interview from 1965 (sorry, only text):
http://users.deltatre.net/cdm/Sounds/BillEvans/Interview.html

Here's a nice radio interview from 1980:
http://www.stevehillis.com/MP3s/Bill%20Evans%20Interview.mp3

Enjoy!


Edited by erichlof (05/04/12 12:37 PM)

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#1892076 - 05/06/12 05:29 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: erichlof]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
I enjoyed both interviews a lot.

1965:
1. Interesting that Bill credited his strong swing to Oscar Peterson's influence
2. I really believe him when he said his 1965 trio never rehearsed. To me, that trio had a telepathic sense of each other's rhythm

1980
1. What did Bill mean when he said at 3:12 that "there was a hierarchy in the changes, some changes were more important than others" ?
2. Interesting that Bill didn't learn by ear. He humbly admitted that he had to learn "stone by stone, layer by layer".
3. Bill didn't transcribe but rather would find the principle to apply with each recording.
4. Reinforces Coltrane's work ethic. When Coltrane started with Miles Davis', Coltrane kept on "fumbling" on stage.

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#1892640 - 05/07/12 12:55 AM Bill Evans Documentary [Re: custard apple]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: custard apple
I enjoyed both interviews a lot. . . . .
What did Bill mean when he said at 3:12 that "there was a hierarchy in the changes, some changes were more important than others" ?

We could sort of guess, based on the fact that Evans was describing having the bass player call to him the chord changes, that Bill learned which changes were essential, and which could be ignored.

For example, one can play through SUMMERTIME acceptably with only four different chords. Those would be the most important in Bill's "hierarchy". Many of us are going to use substitutes and extensions, bringing our number of chords up to 10 or 12 or maybe even more, but those "extra" chords are incidental colors, or "passing harmonies", and would be considered lower in that hierarchy.

That's my guess.
Ed

_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1892684 - 05/07/12 03:55 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: LoPresti]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
OK Ed. So for the ii V I progression, if I were most likely to use a sub on the V, does that mean that ii and I are more important than the V ?

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#1892805 - 05/07/12 09:47 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
knotty Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2993
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
i went to see a group last Sunday.
Soprano - bass - drums + piano.
The first 3 played together all the time, but the piano was filling in for the first time. My friend joe Holt for those who know him.

The Soprano would be calling random tunes, in apparently random keys. In addition, they'd be switching keys all the time in the middle of a tune. Some tunes I knew, some I recognized, and some I didn't know.

Seeing how the pianist would just seem to know it all, had intro for all of it, and just overall mess with the tune a lot, I asked him "How did you memorize all those tunes??"
And he said, "I didn't really memorize anything per se.", Then added "when you think about it, there are really only 3 kinds of chords. The release, the tension, and the way to get to the tension.". That's it, that's the basic structure I know about the tune.

Perhaps that is how Bill Evans would think of the structure of the tune also. Listen to the McPartland interview. He shows you how he sets up a basic Cmaj over a pedal point, and then that gives him all he needs to gravitate over that basic structure.

It's really interesting.

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#1892857 - 05/07/12 11:24 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: custard apple]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: custard apple
OK Ed. So for the ii V I progression, if I were most likely to use a sub on the V, does that mean that ii and I are more important than the V ?

Trying to second guess what someone like Bill Evans might think is akin to stepping out on very thin ice!

First of all, let's recall that, in the situation about which Evans is speaking, he is feeling his way into jazz. I BELIEVE that any of the traditional cadences, like our ii - V7 - I, he would think of as HIGH in his hierarchy, with each chord of high importance. Moving then to your question of substitutions, the ii7 is important, as is the substitute or altered V7, and equally the I, with color tones or extensions.
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1894194 - 05/09/12 01:47 PM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
venice1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/11
Posts: 22
I've enjoyed the comments and links and hopefully Bill Evans will be continuously and further explored on this site as it seems his efforts and recorded works still have much to offer. Thanks also to chrisbell for recommending the biography, "How My Heart Sings" as I picked up a copy and am slowly digesting it. I found the following interesting written near the beginning of Chapter Four: Sideman -

"... and Evans retired somewhat from the live scene. After 'New Jazz Conceptions' he spent endless hours sight-reading Bach as an aid to developing tone control and technique.
Near the end of his life Evans told Jim Aikin: "Bach changed my hand approach to playing the piano. I used to use a lot of finger technique when I was younger, and I changed over to a weight technique. Actually, if you play Bach and the voices sing at all, and sustain the way they should, you can't really play it with the wrong approach. It's going to straighten you out in a hurry if you have a concept of what it should sound like."

As a beginner, I don't know if I have a valid thought on what he says but maybe his point is something to consider. What, how and when I should incorporate Bach into my playing schedule is an entirely different matter if it is appropriate.


Edited by venice1 (05/09/12 01:53 PM)

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#1894223 - 05/09/12 02:47 PM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1341
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Originally Posted By: venice1
As a beginner, I don't know if I have a valid thought on what he says but maybe his point is something to consider. What, how and when I should incorporate Bach into my playing schedule is an entirely different matter if it is appropriate.
It's a very valid point.
Glad you're enjoying the book.
_________________________

I never play anything the same way once.

https://soundcloud.com/chrisb/sets
https://www.youtube.com/user/djboing/videos

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#1894321 - 05/09/12 06:00 PM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: chrisbell]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
I'm looking forward to starting the book too. I didn't know Bill retired from the live scene, although I knew he had always wanted the time to explore alone, do solo and to compose.

What does a weight technique mean ?

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#1894345 - 05/09/12 06:44 PM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: custard apple]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1341
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Originally Posted By: custard apple

What does a weight technique mean ?
Well, a simple answer is let the arms be heavy and relaxed, the hands sturdy but not tense. It's the weight of the arm that keeps the key down.

I know i know, it's much more complicated writing about rather than showing it. smile
_________________________

I never play anything the same way once.

https://soundcloud.com/chrisb/sets
https://www.youtube.com/user/djboing/videos

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#1894347 - 05/09/12 06:47 PM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: chrisbell]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
Thanks for that clear explanation Chris.
Makes me want to get back into WTC1.

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#1894499 - 05/10/12 12:26 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: venice1]
erichlof Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 369
Hi all,
Check out his right hand 'weight' technique. You can see it in the closeups:



Also, is it me, or does he rarely, if ever, cross the thumb under any other fingers of his right hand? Or for that matter, cross any fingers over the thumb?
Growing up playing classical, I learned the crossing technique early on for scales and arpeggios and such. And although Bill must have learned this way in his childhood years too, it seems he has deviated from that school of playing, and found his own technique.

It appears to me he is using a 'planing' technique where higher notes are regulated to fingers 3,4, and 5, and lower notes are played with thumb and 2 only. It's like he locks his wrist position in place and just moves laterally left and right as the jazz line dictates, while avoiding any crossings.

Here's another look:



Anybody else seeing this?

-Erich

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#1894589 - 05/10/12 05:03 AM Re: Bill Evans Documentary [Re: erichlof]
custard apple Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/09
Posts: 2300
Loc: Sydney
Originally Posted By: erichlof
Hi all,
Check out his right hand 'weight' technique. You can see it in the closeups:



-Erich


Thank you Erich for the interesting video.
I don't know if I'm imagining it but it seems to me that his wrist seems high at first and then drops more after 3 min. So is the heavy arm technique around the 4 min mark ?

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