Essay Jazz Latin

For more than twenty years, Evans played it nearly every night with his trios, often as the show-stopping climax of the second set.

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And it didn’t exactly swing, but unfurled at its own pace, like liturgical music for some arcane ritual.

For three takes, the band diligently tried to make it work, but Mitchell couldn’t wrap his head around it, particularly under Miles’s intimidating gaze.

He also began dating a chic young black woman, Peri Cousins, for whom he wrote one of his sprightly early originals, “Peri’s Scope.” Cousins observed how quickly the drug filled a crucial role in Evans’s existence, providing a buffer between his acute sensitivity and the realities of life on the road.

“When he came down, when he kicked it, which he did on numerous occasions, the world was—I don’t know how to say it—too beautiful,” she said. It’s almost as if he had to blur the world for himself by being strung out.” On Kind of Blue, widely regarded as the greatest jazz recording ever made, Evans became a conduit of that unbearable beauty, mapping a middle path between Russell’s Lydian concepts, Miles’s unerring sense of swing, and the luminous romanticism of Ravel and Debussy.

vans once told a friend that a musician should be able to maintain focus on a single tone in his mind for at least five minutes—and in playing like this, he achieved a nearly mystical immersion in the music: a state of pure, undistracted concentration.

Even before writers like Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder made Buddhism a subject of popular fascination in America, Evans saw parallels between meditative practice and the keen, alert state that jazz improvisation demands, when years of work on perfecting tone and technique suddenly drop away and a direct channel opens up between the musician’s brain and his or her fingers.

Though superb versions of “Nardis” have been recorded by everyone from tenor sax titan Joe Henderson to bluegrass guitar virtuoso Tony Rice, no one embodied its melodic potential more than Bill Evans.

For him, Miles’s serpentine melody was a terrain he never tired of exploring.

But Miles’s hard-core fans continued to shun Evans.

They saw a white nerd evicting the beloved Red Garland from the prestigious keyboard chair at a time when black pride and appreciation of jazz as a distinctively black cultural form were ascendant.


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