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The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
#2880514 08/17/19 06:50 AM
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Discussing the performing of Bill Evans, we are always talking about his phrases, chords, harmony, textures. However, we would like to hear from knowledgeable pianists about the pianistic side of B.E. : playing movements, touch technique , the use of both pedals ; that is, all that is always of interest to classical pianists.

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Re: The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
Nahum #2880642 08/17/19 03:43 PM
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I can't comment on that question but I do know that Bill Evans studied classical music before college and, I believe, in college also.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/17/19 03:44 PM.
Re: The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
Nahum #2880663 08/17/19 04:36 PM
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Hi Nahum

I'm certainly not qualified to comment on your post, however I highly recommend Peter Pettinger's biography of Bill Evans, which I read many years ago. Pettinger was a concert Pianist himself and made many interesting observations on Bill Evans playing.

Some of the content may be relevant to your post.

Cheers


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Re: The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
Nahum #2880787 08/18/19 03:02 AM
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[Linked Image]

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Simon, thank you very much for mentioning the book! I looked at the feedback on this biography of B.E., and got the impression that this is not quite what I had in mind. My perspective is the view of a jazz piano teacher who should practically direct a beginner towards correct jazz pianism - similar to the work of an academic pianist with a beginner student. It is known that there was a period when B.E. worked as a teacher; and it would be interesting to get acquainted with his pedagogical principles in a systematic way. There are a number of issues that are simply not not described, when compared with the classical piano; for example a synthesis of jazzy percussive and vocalized sound. In classics, these are two isolated topics, in jazz - no. In this regard, questions arise about the corresponding playing movements, and most importantly: a comparison with other major pianists L. Tristano, A. Tatum, G. Shearing , B. Powell, R. Garland, W. Kelly. It does not look like this is contained in the mentioned book. It would be interesting to get acquainted with the assessments of the impact of studying on violin and flute playing on pianistic sound production of B.E.




Last edited by Nahum; 08/18/19 03:03 AM.
Re: The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
Nahum #2880862 08/18/19 09:44 AM
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This video,

https://youtu.be/N2yMQREAFkM

featuring Bill Evans speaking and playing, with his brother Harry assisting, gives a lot of information about how BE approached creativity and self-teaching (hence the title of the video).

Meanwhile, this article
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/larry-youngs-self-questioning-jazz

in the New Yorker about the jazz organist Larry Young (one of the great jazz organists of his or any time)

mentions that Bill Evans and Larry Young both studied with the same piano teacher in New Jersey who had, herself, studied the piano with Béla Bartok, who was known in his time as one of the great pianists.

Meanwhile, Glenn Gould eventually came to own a specific Steinway that he considered as the best piano he’d ever found. And he was heartbroken when movers basically destroyed the piano through carelessness. But, in any case, before the piano had been damaged he lent it to Bill Evans for at least one solo recording session (if not more). What those recording sessions are is in a book called “A Romance on Three Legs” (about Glenn Gould and his obsession with pianos).

Regarding details of BE’s pianistic technique, which Nahum brought up in the first place, there’s information about that scattered all about in a million books and graduate-student research papers and such. Like everything, it’s a question of doing the research and SOME of the answers are out there. For example, I’m pretty sure Kenny Werner, in his book “Effortless Mastery,” mentions a party with a gathering of pianists, all of whom where among “the” players of the day. He gives some specific observations (what and why) about BE’s technique and sound.

Hope this is of interest ...

Re: The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
Nahum #2880905 08/18/19 11:39 AM
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Mark, with the return of you! Thanks for the links; they are mostly familiar to me, except about Larry Young.
That's exactly what I meant: spraying the right material over a large mass of sources, like magic mirror's shards of Snow Queen. Since John Mehegan's efforts to open the jazz department (“What is there to learn? Drink a glass of whiskey, a cigarette in the teeth - and start pounding on an instrument !”), this part of jazz education of pianists apparently still suffers from stepdaughter syndrome at the academic education table. Here on the forum there was already a short discussion about the sufficiency of training a jazz pianist in the traditional way, dating back more than 300 years. Over 47 years of teaching experience, I have seen many examples of hand injuries due to the transition from classical music to jazz, especially among girls . With harmony and theory, the situation is completely different!
BTW , when I still lived in Soviet Union, when we studied jazz on our own and served as teachers for one another, we felt this clash of the academic school of piano and jazz instinctively; and such a method was used when the musical text was first studied, as if it were classical music; and then the factor of swing, groove, articulation and jazzy sound was superimposed. Of course, over time, the outlook on the process has completely changed: even a single sound must breathe jazz!

Re: The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
Nahum #2880918 08/18/19 12:18 PM
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Nahum, I knew you would know that BE creativity link smile .... But I was as surprised as anyone when I found that Bill Evans and Larry Young both studied with the same teacher and that she had studied with Bartok!

In case someone hasn’t come across Larry Young before (who’d ever connect him to Bill Evans?)

Here’s a recording he made with Tony Williams’ Lifetime group (with John McLaughlin on guitar) ... I know you know it.

https://youtu.be/l_Vku6oRwqo

There’s a picture of a bass player in the vid (I think it’s Jack Bruce!) But it’s “only” a trio that’’s playing. Larry Young is of course walking the bass line with his left hand. Some may find the distorted tone of the organ to be too much. But that was the sound they wanted then.

Here another Larry Young recording from his album Unit with Joe Henderson and Elvin Jones). Nahum, I’m sure you know it smile

https://youtu.be/tVSWEuSfg9c

Here, the organ isn’t distorted .... it’s classic “Blue Note” organ sound. For me maybe one of top 10 recordings in jazz although that’s not necessarily a wise thing to say! (To classify top 10!)

Anyway, those links are there for anyone who hasn’t yet come across Larry Young. He played on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew recordings and I’ve read, I think, that he used to practice together with John Coltrane. He died at a young age from undiagnosed pneumonia. (Sad). He’s on a lot of Blue Note recordings was very active in New York City and Newark “back in the day.”

Re: The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
Nahum #2880954 08/18/19 01:23 PM
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Here is a vivid demonstration of what I had in mind: the brilliant classical pianist Friedrich Gulda (not Glenn Gould!) with his fantastic finger technique, playing, or trying to play jazz;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMk-j8WexaM

Pay attention to the passage from 3: 01; he obviously plays it
 with a tight hand and forced to make arm relaxed movements at 3:07.


Academic educated Sir Roland Hanna, also with a very strong finger technique.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbUZsbCCcNs&list=RDEMG2DTVgnyzslO6gmkueKxdw&start_radio=1

Last edited by Nahum; 08/18/19 01:24 PM.
Re: The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
Nahum #2881006 08/18/19 03:01 PM
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Nahum, pay attention! Glenn Gould gave his own personal piano to BE a piano for a recording session. The two of them must of have some communication about technique and tone especially since GG set up his piano for very specific purposes.

Re: The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
Nahum #2881028 08/18/19 04:15 PM
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Mark, I also knew that G.G. and B. E. were friends; they were both born with a difference of 3 years and one month, and died with a difference of 2 years and three weeks. Each of them appreciated a professional opinion about each other's work. If B.E. spoke of thinking through multilayer piano texture; I don’t know if it was G.G. influence , or they themselves were just like-minded people.

Re: The piano touch and pedal technique of Bill Evans.
Nahum #2881182 08/19/19 03:57 AM
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I looked again at Kenny Werner's book, which places emphasis on meditative, psychological, and ideomotor training ( without specific mention of the term) . In principle, good tips for any pianist, without taking into account the specifics of jazz gesticulation on keyboard ; although there are also superficial statements .
.


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