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Friday, April 06, 2018

Bill Evans - How my heart sings

Borrowed from City Library, this is a biography of my all time favourite jazz pianist. 

Well, to call this meticulously researched book from Yale University Press a ‘biography’ is a bit problematic. Peter Pettinger, himself an accomplished concert pianist, solely focused on the development of this musical genius. 

He describes the pianist’s uniquely lyrical sound beautifully. However, reading a passage like, “The piece’s harmonic structure is notable for studiously avoiding the dominant seventh. As  a result, a modal feeling permiates the timeless progression of its predominantly minor seventh”, I feel I  got lost. I wish I could understand these highly technical terms. 

Also, one of the most decisive moments in his life, the suicide of Ellaine Schultz and his brother Harry, were dealt very briefly. The same is true for his drug addiction, his wife Nenette Zazzara, his girlfriend Laurie Verchomin.... 
It must have been the author’s intention, but, I can’t help but feel there’s something very important is missing here in this book. That is, Bill Evans as a human being, not just as a musical genius.  

As a discography of Bill Evans, this is the ultimate book, but, as a biography, probably not. In that sense, the title ‘How my heart sings’ is ironic. I have to say, “I can’t hear you, Bill.”
Sadly, there’s not much written about the pianist. I do hope there will be more books written about his life for non-musical audience like me. 

I wrote about this documentary before. A brilliant thinker Bill truly was. 

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