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Bill Evans (Part 1/2)

Sheet Music Library
Bill Evans

Bill Evans Time - Remembered (2015) Bill Evans Time Remembered is a 90-minute documentary film, produced by Bruce Spiegel which tells the story of Bill Evans’ life. The film was self-funded by the producer who traveled and interviewed approximately 40 people over a period of seven years. Several well renowned musicians are included in the film including Tony Bennett, Dr. Billy Taylor, singer Jon Hendricks, and jazz pianist Bill Charlap. The film also compiles a wide range of historical information about the jazz pianist including his first TV recording which appeared on CBS Look Up and Live in April 1958, playing Come Rain or Come Shine.

At the beginning of Bruce Spiegel’s documentary, “Time Remembered”, Chuck Israels says that he is constantly asked “What was Bill Evans really like?” Israels, who spent five years as Evans’ bassist, shakes his head and replies “Damned if I know”. While the ensuing 87 minutes of Spiegel’s film tells us a lot about Evans’ life and career, there are still many questions left unanswered. We may never know why Evans was so self-critical, how his music evolved, and—most importantly—why he became a heroin addict. However, as Israels notes, we can learn a lot about Evans through his music. While audio and video recordings may not yield answers to the questions posed above, they offer clues to the image that Evans wanted to present to his audiences.

Evans was a very private person, but he told most of his life story to interviewers. Spiegel uses these audio interviews as a narrative thread for his film. Time and again, current interviews with Evans’ friends and colleagues begin with elaborations on Evans’ comments about important people or events in his life. We meet Debby Evans—the pianist’s niece and subject of his best-known composition, “Waltz for Debby”, early associates like bassist Connie Atkinson, famous collaborators such as Paul Motian, Jim Hall, Jack De Johnette, Marty Morell, Tony Bennett, Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera, and a plethora of famous pianists, including Billy Taylor, Eric Reed, Warren Bernhardt, and Bill Charlap. It took Spiegel eight years to make this film, and in the interim several of the interviewees have passed away. It’s a little eerie to see Motian, Hall, Taylor, Bob Brookmeyer and Don Friedman back from the dead, but it underscores the importance of Speigel making this film when he did.

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