Here's a September story:
I turned 28 on September 15, 1980. I don't mind birthdays, and most of them have been fun. This particular birthday was a sad one. William John Evans had died that day. The jazz world knew him as Bill Evans, and he was one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz. Even though he's been gone for 17 years, his legacy continues and his music continues to be a vital part of the jazz scene.
There are no Evans biographies available (one is due out next year), but there is an excellent reminiscence by Gene Lees in the book Meet Me at Jim & Andy's: Jazz Musicians and Their World (ISBN 0195065808, $10.95; you can get a copy at www.amazon.com). This book contains portraits of several jazz musicians, including Woody Herman, Paul Desmond, Billy Taylor, and Frank Rossolino. The stories are fascinating and often heartbreaking.
There is an excellent Bill Evans website at www.34skid.com/lfehome.htm. The site is run by bassist Win Hinkle, and available there are all the back issues of a newsletter called Letter from Evans. The newsletter contains reviews, interviews, stories, and transcriptions of some of Evans' solos. It's excellent.
If you've never listened to Bill Evans, you might start with my favorite Evans album titled You Must Believe in Spring. There are a lot of Evans compact discs available, and several large collections have been recently released, including all the material recorded for Verve records and the complete recordings from the last Village Vanguard sessions.
So, my birthday this year will be fun, but somewhat bittersweet, and I'll spend a portion of it (as I've done for past 17 years) listening to Bill Evans.
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