William John Evans, b. Aug. 16, 1929 in Plainfield, New Jersey; began piano studies at 6, violin at 7, flute at 13; graduated from Southeastern Louisiana College 1950; joined Herbie Fields band 1950; Army 1951-54; various playing jobs in New York City 1955-59; post-graduate study Mannes College 1955; first trio recording 1956; joined Miles Davis Sextet 1959; formed own trio late 1959; winner of the Down Beat Critics Poll five times; 5 Grammy awards: Conversations with Myself (1964) –Best Instrumental Jazz Performance; Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival (1968) and Alone (1970)-Best Jazz Performance by a Small Group; The Bill Evans Album (1971) – Best Jazz Performance by a Group and Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist. Outside of the U. S. he received the Melody Maker Award in 1968, Scandinavia’s Edison Award in 1969 and Japan’s Swing Journal Award in 1969.
If you add that all up, you still won’t get Bill Evans, one of the most admired and imitated jazz pianists of the second half of the 20th century. Nowhere can we learn more about his musical language than from transcriptions of his own compositions and his harmonizations of standard repertoire. Lyric versions of his most well known compositions such as “Waltz for Debby” “Turn Out the Stars” “Very Early” and “The Two Lonely People” have been set by Gene Lees and Carol Hall.
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