Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings

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9780300071931: Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings

Bill Evans (1929-1980) is universally acknowledged as one of the most influential of all jazz pianists. Classically trained on flute, violin, and piano, Evans chose jazz - specifically the jazz piano trio - as his medium. This biography tells Evan's story. Based on research and conversations with many of Evan's friends and colleagues, as well as Pettinger's firsthand memories of performances at the Village Vanguard in New York and Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London, it describes the life, the musicmaking and the legacy of this major American jazz artist. The author asseses Evan's recordings and analyzes his technique, tone production, approach to group playing, and compositional methods. With a full discography and dozens of photographs, the volume should be welcomed by jazz fans and general readers alike.

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Review:

Perhaps it was a white jazz musician's need to negate his very ordinary American boyhood, or maybe it was in the genes he inherited from his alcoholic father--no one can be quite sure--but Bill Evans, one of the most influential American jazz pianists ever, was a drug addict. He picked up his habit shortly after joining the Miles Davis Sextet in the 1950s, but it took Evans more than 20 years to be swallowed by the abyss of heroin, methadone, and cocaine. Sitting at the piano in the shadow of Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, and Philly Joe Jones--the era's paragons of cool--could not have been easy for the retiring musician who suffered harsh ribbing at the hands of both bandmates and fans. Ironically, as the drugs distorted Evans's body and soul, his fingers coaxed ever more sublime music from his keyboard. Biographer Peter Pettinger was himself a professional pianist and a longtime listener of Evans, so he is expert at articulating the nuances of the music. He is perceptive too in exploring the forces that imbued in one life so much beauty and so much pain. The result is a book that is both a memorial to a burdened man and an homage to his transcendent music.

From the Back Cover:

"[A] fine new biography... packed with... shrewd critical commentary." -Terry Teachout, New York Times Book Review

"Pettinger sets out to catalogue and explain Evans' wide-ranging genius... The making of every important Evans recording is discussed, and as he follows the extreme ups and downs of a career vexed by heroin addiction and other problems, Pettinger shows how the personal helped shape the artistic sensibility of this jazz innovator." -Tom Moon, Philadelphia Inquirer

Selected as a 1998 Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review

Winner of the 1999 ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award in the Pop Books Category

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Pettinger, Mr. Peter
Published by Yale University Press (1998)
ISBN 10: 0300071930 ISBN 13: 9780300071931
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Pettinger, Mr. Peter
Published by Yale University Press
ISBN 10: 0300071930 ISBN 13: 9780300071931
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