The sound and success of "Kind of Blue," one of Miles Davis' greatest recordings, were largely due to the presence of pianist Bill Evans. In his autobiography Davis dismissed Evans as "a good little piano player." But as any fan knows, he was something more than that.
Virtually everyone who touches a keyboard in jazz today has incorporated aspects of Evans' work, a combination of a slashing attack with a rich harmonic sense. Evans was most famous for his trios, which he ran with true democracy. He regarded his last one -- with Marc Johnson on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums -- as one of his best.
That is the lineup on "The Last Waltz," an eight-CD boxed set recorded live in San Francisco during a week in September 1980. It was Evans' last gig; he died a week later.
The shared artistry and emotional communication among the three musicians is extraordinary. One can fault the repetition of material (six versions of Miles Davis' "Nardis," for example), but the creation of improvised music at this consistently high level is impressive.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.