Thursday, April 8, 2010

for bill evans (6)

for bill evans

a unique & most unusual jazz pianist,
yr tone & conceptions were delicate
without being fragile. u could not
collaborate nine gestative months with
miles with thin skin. u might have been
vulnerable but u didn’t bruise or frighten
easily. he liked what he saw in u, what
u brought to the table, those hints of
lennie tristano, lee konitz & even horace
silver – yr quiet rage. he liked the way
the piano sounded when u played. yr

highly nuanced touch; those single note
tone phrases that rang like freedom (u let
them ring as if u wanted all & sundry to
savor the decay); those block chords &
rhythm independent melodies, never
aggressively percussive, more often
like a junkie shrinking back from bright
lit corners. & yet yr themes & figures
were exquisitely crafted disturbances
in space & time, studies in the kind of
pain only the soul can know, kinda blue,
abstracted from bent time. u’d take a
stone of a phrase in yr solo, toss it in
yr modal soup & let the ripples spread,
extend their rhythms, melodic passages
& harmonies. then, within the same solo,
u’d drop that stone again & again,repeating
transformative dance each time. an
unfolding beautiful to behold. so unlike

the day-to-day ugly of cold sweats, malaise,

anxiety/depression that boy heroin brings;
the cramps,chills, muscle & bone aches &
nausea,the menacing, often terrifying
phantasmagora lurking just
outside of eye
& earshot, the temporary fix
that propped
the music up,that propped u
up.the good
news is that u kicked, kicked
the boy to
the curb.but u failed to strain
yr impulses,
yr social alienation & sensation-seeking
thru & into the safe refuge of the vaunted
impressionism & introverted classical
sensibility folks so admired about u,
that influenced so many young, brilliant
players. & thus u fell under the fatal spell
of the girl. alas,
yr mistress wasn’t music,
but cocaine.

©Joseph McNair;2010


  1. After reading bill evans I think I've learned a lot about the life of bill evans from just reading thhe poem. I have learned that bill evans was a sensitive man and that miles davis enjoyed working with him. He was a very skilled pianist and when he played his music went places that other people didn't. The downfall of bill evans was drugs and before it is mentioned in the end there was a reference to it in the middle when you said "like a junkie" in reference to the styles of music that he played. Overall, I like the tone of the poem because I can sense admiration from the words used to describe bill evans and in the end sadness for his addiction to cocaine.

  2. Hello Joseph,

    I'm impressed by your gorgeous poem about Bill Evans on YouTube with "Time Remembered" in the background.
    Did you published it in one of your poetry books?
    I would like to ask you if I may publish the poem on my site about Bill Evans entitled "Time Remembered".
    I have a special literature page on that site.
    Actually I'm a cardiologist , but a lifelong Evans aficionado since 1965 when he performed for the first time in The Netherlands, in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.
    Since then I collected everything about him and attended his concerts in Europe. With a friend who had a jazzlabel Limetree Records with also classical music
    we recorded Monty Alexander, Hank Jones, John Hicks, Toots Thielemans, Ben Webster, Kirk Lightsey, Chet Baker and a lot of Dutch musicians.
    Because of my work in the hospital, I had no longer time for it and the label was bought to a friend from Timeless Records in The Netherlands.
    As a non-professional I designed a website about Bill Evans "Time Rembembered":

    Best wishes
    Rob Rijneke