Wednesday, May 22, 2024



Bill Evans was an American jazz pianist known for his soft, “lazy” sound that took jazz playing into a new realm in the 1950s. His approach to composition and his love of improvisation inspired a new generation, cementing his position as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

Evans was born in1929 and grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey. His mother gave him his first piano lessons, and by the age of six he was studying classical music. At twelve, he was playing in his first band. He graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University as a pianist in 1950 and, after three years in the Army, attended Mannes College of Music in New York City to study composition.

While in New York, Evans began playing in local jazz clubs, quickly making a name for himself as a skilled pianist. Perhaps more importantly, he was also seen as someone who wanted to reinterpret popular jazz compositions and move them away from the styles of the previous decade. During this time, he got to know many of the musicians he would later record with, including Cannonball Adderly, Miles Davis, and Thelonious Monk.

In 1957, Evan released his first album, New Jazz Conceptions, and the following year joined Miles Davis’s group. Davis felt Evans’s piano style was perfect for the new band sound Davis was looking for. In 1959, they recorded Kind of Blue, which was to become the best-selling jazz album of all time.

Soon after, Evans formed his own band—a classic trio of piano, bass, and drums—a format that would be his primary format for the most of his musical life. He looked to the trio as the perfect vehicle to satisfy his desire for genuinely organic improvisation. Something that would grow in “the direction of simultaneous improvisation rather than just one guy blowing followed by another guy blowing.” He wanted to instill a sense of freedom within their playing, but a freedom that interconnected each instrument and each musician.

“If the bass player, for example, hears an idea that he wants to answer, why should he just keep playing a 4/4 background? The men I’ll work with have learned how to do the regular kind of playing, and so I think we now have the license to change it.”

Evans’s style, while not entirely unique—influences from Debussy, Ravel, Bach and many of the traditional jazz players he grew up loving are evident in his composition and playing—infused a freshness that elevated the band around him and the music they created. His way of building and connecting chords into improvised, rhythmically independent melodies gave his playing an unexpected quality that was deemed unconventional and different in the 1950s. And, as his skill and confidence grew, his playing became increasingly lyrical and romantic in character, creating a sound that was as compelling as it was accessible to his growing audience.

“The artist has to find something within himself that’s universal and which he can put into terms that are communicable to other people.”

Evans is indisputably one of the most distinctive and influential pianists of his generation. From 1956 until his death in 1980, he recorded over fifty albums and contributed piano on as many others. His classic trio constantly broke new ground in composition, and its constant innovation and love of improvisation means those recordings remain high water marks in 20th century music.

“Bill had this quiet fire that I loved on piano. The way he approached it, the sound he got was like crystal notes or sparkling water cascading down from some clear waterfall.” Miles Davis



Friday, December 3, from 6–8pm

A Christmas Carol Dinner!

With Chef Joe Cizynski

Chef Joe will give Dickens a run for his money with this scrumptious dinner in the best holiday tradition, featuring oyster stew with root vegetables, roast goose breast salad with cranberries and oranges, roast suckling pig with chestnuts, prunes, and apples … with fresh cheeses to finish.


And he will pour complimentary bubbles to bring in the holiday season! Christmas is a fortnight away and there’s much to be done, so come enjoy a brief respite from it all and let the Chef do the cooking.

$100 – Member, $125 – Non-Member