We open our 2010/11 Serial Underground season with a unique evening to celebrate the great composer/pianist/jazz icon Bill Evans on the thirtieth anniversary of his death on September 15, 1980. Bill was an early mentor of mine. Although it took me a long to appreciate his influential lyrical side, the hard-swinging extroversion that characterized how he played in his last years grabbed me. I suspect our casual friendship arose from common musical interests; for instance, our mutual appreciation of great classical pianists. Bill set me up with a job fixing up and editing his transcribed solos for a book. and we painstakingly cross-checked details over the phone (this was before fax machines and computers, remember). I'd plunk out a chord on my piano, and he'd say yes or no or change this or keep that, and so forth.
Tonight's guest writers certainly bring us closer to the man behind the music. Bill Zavatsky's poems stay with you long after you read or hear them. Laurie Verchomin's upcoming memoir about her life with Bill Evans in the last year and a half of his life runs the full emotional gamut. Once I started reading it, I couldn't stop. Laurie and I decided to frame her words with piano music, and although I'm using Bill¹s compositions or, in some cases, songs associated with him, strangely enough, I'm not playing like him. Maybe a chord or two, or a favorite lick, but I just can't do my once letter-perfect Bill Evans imitation anymore. Perhaps that's a good thing. When I told Bill how much I had stolen from him, he said "Go right ahead. That's what I did when I was young. It only took me forty years to evolve my own style!"
CORNELIA STREET CAFÉ
29 Cornelia Street, NYC, New York -- 212-989-9319
between West 4th and Bleecker Sts, Greenwich Village
1 Subway to Sheridan Square; A, C, E, B, D, V, F to West 4th St.