Bill Evans


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In 1955, Evans began working with Tony Scott and George Russell. His subtly swinging, lucidly constructed solos with these leaders quickly attracted attention, and provided Evans with an opportunity to begin recording under his own name. By 1958, he spent several months in Miles Davis’ band, where he played alongside John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, and became a central figure in Davis's shift to modal improvisation. The period with Davis allowed Evans to organize his own trio, which featured bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian by the end of 1959. The Bill Evans Trio developed a new and more interactive approach to trio playing, one in which all instruments carried melodic responsibilities and functioned as equal voices. LaFaro's tragic death in a July 1961 ended the existence of this seminal unit; but not before it had recorded four albums that influenced several generations of pianists, bassists, and drummers. While Evans excelled in even more intimate playing situations—he made memorable duet music with guitarist Jim Hall, singer Tony Bennett, and bassist Eddie Gomez, and on more than one occasion created fascinating studio recitals of multi-tracked piano—for the remaining two decades of his life, he continued to work in the trio format. His lyrical melodic inventions, intricate phrasing, complex voicings, and beautiful touch remain as unmistakable influences on pianists more than 40 years after his death.