CLIP | Bill Evans, ‘My Foolish Heart,’ 1960s

CLIP | Bill Evans interviewed, 1966

LIVES | Bill Evans, piano genius, 1929-1980

Bill Evans, the noted jazz pianist, would have been 81 years old today had he not died on Sept. 15, 1980. Astute readers already know I’m a huge devotee of Evans’ as his work is often featured in the Clips section of

I’ve been aware of Evans since I made a poor effort of playing piano for the Morristown-Beard jazz ensemble, but I never really focused on his terrific oeuvre until I lived in Lake Placid. There, over the course of several dinner parties at the home of contributor Steve Reynolds, I rediscovered Evans.

William John Evans was born Aug. 16, 1929 in Plainfield, N.J. He attended Southern Louisiana University on a music scholarship, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950. Active in New York after his service, he back Miles Davis for part of 1958. Shortly thereafter, he recorded “Everybody Digs Bill Evans, but returned to Davis to record “Kind of Blue,” for which he apparently penned “Blue in Green.”

Evans started his own trio in 1959 and the rest, as the saying goes, is history. Among his many collaborators were Monica Zetterlund and Stan Getz. Evans was a master. His life was cut short by more than 20 years of heroin and then cocaine abuse.

Here’s a little selection of some of my favorite Evans tracks:

CLIP | Bill Evans, ‘Emily,’ 1970

CLIP| Bill Evans Trio performs ‘M.A.S.H.’ theme, 1979

VIDEO| Bill Evans: ‘Emily’

VIDEO| Bill Evans: ‘Waltz for Debby’ on Facebook