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#3108228 04/20/21 08:39 AM
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I started out as a classical pianist but for the last ten years or more have played almost exclusively note for note transcriptions of jazz pianists like Evans, Hersch, Charlap, Gershwin, Shearing, Grusin, Jarrett, Johnson, Waller, etc. I know nothing about jazz except that I like it a lot and couldn't improvise in any meaningful way if my life depended on it.

So I'm hoping to get an answer to the question in my post title from those of you who really know jazz. I was surprised when discussing some jazz pianists with a good stride pianist I knew when he said "Bill Evans didn't swing" or something to that effect. I guess that might depend on how one interprets what it means to "swing" and I don't have a good understanding of that either. To me, it just means the music makes you want to tap your foot or dance.

So what do you think about Bill Evans?

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Yes Bill Evans swings! If you listen to the history of jazz the swing feel changes over time. Older styles sometimes have a more dotted crisper feel whereas Evans (and most more modern players ) have a looser and slightly more even feel.

Compare Teddy Wilson…


to Keith Jarrett…

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does a bear crap in the woods?

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Did Bill swing?

If this isn't swinging then I don't know what is




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Exhibit C - Can Bill Evans swing?



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somehow i dont think Miles would have let Evans play in his band (and tour) if he couldn't swing....

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I would change the question to "Has Bill Evans always played with the swing feeling?" ; and under my responsibility I answer: "Not always." Most likely, Miles was squeezing out of B.E. the best swing, however his phrasing was very opposite to Lenny Tristano: short phrases and a lot of staccato. At times, the crisp triplet rhythm threw him away from the swing. However, it is possible that the reason was his polyrhythmic concept.

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
... To me, it just means the music makes you want to tap your foot or dance.

So what do you think about Bill Evans?


Yes me too. it is the feel of swing that strikes you, and if you don't get that feel on your own, than nobody's explanation of it is ever going to make it swing.

Ella swings, Peterson swings. Many others (even though highly respected jazz musicians), simply do not swing. Chick Chorea does not swing and to my mind nor does Evans. I mean maybe a bit, but it never really gets cooking like Peterson. Not even close.

But, It is a different type of jazz I guess.

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Originally Posted by Greener
Chick Chorea does not swing .
Are you serious? Chick had such a mastery of rhythm that he could reproduce exactly different swing styles. The problem (if that's the problem), however, was that he was mixing different styles.


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Yes, serious. Like I said, if you have to explain it, it is likely not going to make it for me.

If you come in at about the minute and a half mark on this one, that is the feel I am looking for but never got from Chick. Ever. But, in fairness different styles. That's ok. But not swing in the same way. I don't even like all of this one, but it swings. To me.


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Originally Posted by Greener
Yes, serious. Like I said, if you have to explain it, it is likely not going to make it for me.

If you come in at about the minute and a half mark on this one, that is the feel I am looking for but never got from Chick. Ever. But, in fairness different styles. That's ok. But not swing in the same way. I don't even like all of this one, but it swings. To me.
Twenty years ago I had a discussion with an African American musician at a school ,where we taught together, about a swing feel education . He convinced me that the swing feeling today is different from what we know from the records of the 50's and 60's; and there is nothing to do here: you can cry, you can laugh, you can be indifferent - but this is the situation: everything changes. Even the African American pronunciation of English, which is the basis of the swing feeling, has also changed. Who speaks like Satchmo today?

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Yes, everything changes. The one thing in life that is certain. Does this mean I should like Bill Evans?

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I am just guessing but perhaps when the stride pianist I mentioned said Bill Evans didn't swing he was thinking of a different, older concept of that term that some posters on this thread have mentioned. Unfortunately, I don't have enough understanding of jazz to fully understand some of the posts on this thread. Which doesn't mean I don't want more opinions.

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Swing as I understand is playing 8th notes with a triplet feel. What that really means is the first of two 8th notes is longer than the second. I've transcribed Bill Evans and when you slow it down, it's clear that the first 8th note is longer than the second, but the disparity is less than in many other pianists. I tend to this of this as a gentle v. a "hard" swing. Wynton Kelly, for example, epitomized a hard swing that forces you to tap your foot. Bill Evans swing is different, but he certainly isn't playing straight 8th notes.

One can like or dislike Bill Evans, but the discussion of whether he "swings" seems pointless. He has his style, he was one of the titans of jazz piano, and everybody can make up their own minds as to whether they like him or not, and no one can argue with any opinion either way.

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Originally Posted by jjo
One can like or dislike Bill Evans, but the discussion of whether he "swings" seems pointless.
Since swinging is a major aspect of jazz and Evans is considered by many to be one of the great jazz pianists, how can the discussion of whether he swings be pointless?

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with the Oscar example, it's the blues/gospel feel that moves you)

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pianoloverus: From my perspective (surely some will disagree!), there is no dispute that Bill Evans is one of the titans of jazz piano. He played just about exclusively with other jazz musicians, he played jazz standards, his compositions are played by other jazz musicians, and maybe most importantly, his playing is studied by, and is influential on, nearly all jazz pianists that followed him. So it simply can't be denied that he's part of that jazz tradition.

Once you accept that, even if one concludes he doesn't swing, but one loves his playing, he's still, in my view, a great jazz pianist. To conclude that he doesn't swing (based on some definition) and therefore he's a great pianist, but not a jazz pianist, is, in my opinion nonsense given what I've said above. So, to me, there is a very valid discussion about how his style differs from other jazz pianists, and whether this was a good development in jazz or not. But I just don't see how the conclusion that he does or doesn't swing has much of a consequence. It's just a question of whether a particular label can be attached to his playing.

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Setting aside for a second whether or not Bill Evans' playing fits anyone's particular definition of a swing feel, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that to my ear Bill had the best time, far better than most players. It really occurs to you if you transcribe some of his early pieces with Scott LaFaro on bass, just how good Bill's time is, as he moves in and out of complex rhymic subdivisions. It makes it easy to transcribe even very complex rhythms, because he plays them so right on the money, never rushing. For me it comes down to this: I find it easier to listen to Bill than any other jazz pianist because I trust him more than any of the others to know where the beat is.

And for what it's worth, I think Bill swings like crazy. As Miles said, Bill played the piano "the way it ought to be played".

-Wes


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Originally Posted by Dfrankjazz
does a bear crap in the woods?

+1

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IF you have to ask if Bill Evans Swings then you're the one who doesn't understand Swing and needs to do a lot more listening.

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