Bill Evans was a writer. He did not write novels, nor did he write the occasional editorial in the Plainfield paper. He did not write in the way you may have assumed he wrote. No, Bill Evans wrote music. That was what I was searching for. The music perserved , invented hundreds of years before the iPod, CD, or record player. I was searching for sheet music by the pianist.
Not only was Bill Evans a groundbreaking performer, he was also a well-known composer with jazz tunes such as “Very Early” and “Letter to Evan”. His most popular work being “Waltz for Debbie” for his niece, surprise surprise, named Debbie. Plenty of albums feature his work, not to mention the amount of times his compositions are played whether it be at a hotel lounge, a bar, or anywhere in between.
After 6 flights of vigorous search and 3 bookshelves of seemingly-hopeless looking, I had found it. The book containing pages of silent music. Among them, several of his original songs, as well as songs he made popular or was known for performing.
To the left is the song “Letter to Evan”. Within the music, it not only showed the melody, but how whe might have played it. His voicings, his improvised lines, and the general feel of his playing. This is what distinguishes him from any other jazz pianist. Those technical aspects of his playing that can be put onto paper, and his tone which cannot be replecated by anyone other than him Thankfully, I had some of his albums handy on my phone to listen along to with the written music. You could really hear the different voicings and lines when reading along with it.
The eminence of Bill Evans is not only restricyed to his playing, both as a sideman and a leader, but also in his writing. The titles and the music he wrote reflected the time of his life and who he was and what he was going through. A true artist, he put his soul into his art. More upbeat songs like “Waltz for Debbie” with brighter, more cheerful lyrics (written by close friend Gene Lees) were written at one of the better parts of his life, and it shows in the music. Tunes written at later times of his life, such as “Letter to Evan” for his son, were more meaningful to him and that shows in the lyrics he wrote and the gentle melody of the piece. This shows the depth and human-ness of such a great artist.
I had come to the library, already having known my eminent person, and if anything, doing this research only confirmed the fact that I would be doing this man for eminent. I came on this trip, not expecting to find all that much, maybe a new song or two and to bond with my fellow TALONS, but I got so much more out of it than just that. Already an inspiring man through his music, discovering this inspired me even more to find out more, not only about him, but about music in general. How much of people’s souls they put into their music affects the quality and meaning of the piece.