Friday, April 22, 2011

Bill Evans Trivia

Several months ago I asked readers if they knew of other tunes that Bill performed in "circular form," playing in one tempo then another, then either another or back to the same starting tempo. Each version is twice the tempo of the first, hence this was done with ballads. I indicate a chorus as an (x). "1x" is the original ballad tempo, in the following sample case make it 60 beats/per/minute. "2x" is twice as fast as the previous version, in this sample 120 beats/per/minute. "3x" is twice as fast as the previous version, or 240 beats/per/minute. And you come back to the first tempo the same way you left it, in steps, for example, 1x-2x-3x-2x-1x.

Bill did this regularly on his tune "Blue In Green" (credited to Miles Davis) 1x-2x-3x-2x-1x with each soloist playing as many choruses as they wish but always coming back to the 1x version.

Bill basically did one of two things with drummer, Jimmy Cobb. He either told him nothing, or told him to keep the same pulse and style, no matter what the horns and every one else did. I'm not sure what he told he bass player, Paul Chambers. Paul seems to have used his ears, realized the changes were going by twice as fast, then twice as fast again and played the right notes in the right places. He did not go into 4 for fear the drummer might which is a very good thing here. The result, be it intended or unintended added to the overall magic of "Kind of Blue."

If you listen carefully to the first recording of this tune on "Kind of Blue" you'll hear Bill play it in all 3 tempos. Miles kinda gets it, playing in the 1x and 2x versions but not going back to 1x to finish his soloing. Cannonball doesn't get it at all, playing only the 2x version, all the way. Coltrane doesn't solo all on this tune.

Other tunes that Bill regularly did this on were "Detour Ahead" and in the later part of his career he also did this regularly with "I Loves You, Porgy," still playing a solo piano version. These were 1x-2x-1x versions.


Another bit of trivia is the last name of Bill's first (common law) wife, Ellaine, the gal who committed suicide. Her last name was Horowitz.

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog. Great insight on "Blue In Green." This is a tune that I don't get at all. Maybe I'll go back and look at it again with some new ears (and a brain).