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  1. #1

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    Joe La Barbera wrote "Times Remembered" about the topic above.

    Times Remembered

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I imagine it would be a tough read, documenting the tragic end of a great musician. But the story needs to be told.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    This trio was well documented through a number of recordings, box sets of live performances. When I was working at Tower Records, there was no released documentation of these shows but in the back room of the stock room were 4 big box sets from Japan of this trio, west coast shows that somebody had recorded and came out on a Japanese label with no US distribution. They were not licensed for sales in the states so the promos just sat on the shelves.
    Being an employee, I got the management and buyer to sell them to me. I kept one and sent others to friends with a personal interest in Bill Evans. I sent one to John Abercrombie who was working with Marc Johnson. John then told me he'd never heard Bill play so rhythmically; that it seemed he was on the verge of a creative renewal at the time of his death.
    I still find it amazing that such vital music, the last sessions and the well documented shows west coast and NY were performed just days before his death.

    I'm really curious to read this. Thanks for the heads up!
    I believe at least some of this music has been commercially released now by American labels? There's the 8-CD box set "The Last Waltz" that covers those West Coast dates.

    Absolutely incredible music, almost overwhelmingly so given the sheer volume.

  5. #4
    We saw him the last time he played the VV, and when I went to the bathroom, Marc Johnson and Joe were having a conversation backstage.
    Marc was saying: "But I don't understand what he wants me to do on ballads?"

    Joe replied, "He wants to get that floating sound"
    Marc: "But I don't know how to do that.
    Joe: "Just listen to me."

    A bass player friend of mine came all the way from the West Coast to try and get that gig. When Marc got it, he went on a hate rampage against MJ.
    He told me a story about Marc being in the general area of Bill's place in NJ, and he decided to pay a call on Bill, without letting Bill know beforehand.

    When he got to Bill's place, he kept banging on the door, but Bill wouldn't answer.
    Finally he called out Bill's name or something, and Bill opened the door, and yelled at him "Don't you ever do that again!," and slammed the door in his face.
    Last edited by sgcim; 11-18-2021 at 04:30 PM.

  6. #5

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    As a kid I had the good luck to study (DB) with Michael Moore as, and right after, he played with Bill in the next-to-last BE3.

    Playing in The Bill Evans Trio was Michael's lifetime dream. Unfortunately, as anyone who has heard the "Getting Sentimental" bootleg can attest, Philly Joe stepped all over Mike, over and over, to the point where he quit. And then Philly Joe quit and Bill brought in Joe L (with whom Michael played with hand-in-glove) and Marc J.

    If Michael had hung on just a drop longer it would have been Bill, Mike and Joe L, and that would have been a thing of beauty.


    Ah well.
    "If wishes were fishes we all would cast nets."
    -- Frank Herbert

  7. #6

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    Philly is one of my favorite drummers, and was Bill's as well, though I don't know if he was the best fit in Evans trio
    I was fortunate enough to catch Moore w/Al Cohn, John Bunch and Bobby Durham, stellar performance by all.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    I imagine it would be a tough read, documenting the tragic end of a great musician. But the story needs to be told.
    Yeah, I just ordered it, with some trepidation as to how dark the tale might be. I'm sure there will be bright spots too, about the music, from the drum chair holder. The music's why we care.

    I do have some problems watching videos of and hearing Bill in those final days. His face was so ashen in that Molde concert, and there was the incessant rushing. I sort of have to listen around, not focus on, that part. But through it all he was making breakthroughs. His concepts were evolving and fascinating to the last, and he seemed driven to get it out, like he knew the end was near. His ideas were almost other-worldly. Great harmonic thoughts and rhythmic displacement, and his touch was so full and aggressive. It was so unlike the delicate, moody ballad player he had been pigeonholed as by certain critics. And the other cats were with him all the way, attentive and supportive.

    These things make it both riveting and difficult to hear. If he'd been healthy and had another 10-15 years we can only imagine what would have come out of him.

    I did hear that last trio twice at the Vanguard in '79. I recorded one night on cassette (which got destroyed). There was excitement in the air. The group was pretty new and you can hear how committed and into it the three of them were. Bill looked good and was putting his all into it. He got on mic and announced their names at set's end. He was thrilled and proud.

    So there was much good there. I'm looking forward to reading about that part...

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    We get all sorts of stories and through the filter of someone passed over for a gig, it may have a different facets of truth, nostalgia and vitriol to them.
    I have stories too. The ones about Bill Evans in his last days are alarming and suffice it to say it's not easy to read the signs of someone dying with all the mixed signals of suicidal substance abuse. As for Marc, I love the guy. He was someone I knew through Abercrombie, Sco and Frisell. I would never think of him as a doofus, but I'm not your friend.
    He was just a kid when he was playing with Bill Evans. Bill saw someone in him he hadn't connected with as uncannily since Scott LaFaro. You can hear that in their playing. He was a kid. A bandmate you're that close to, and in such obvious psychological turbulence, c'mon... maybe you can cut him some slack? He had good reason to fear for Bill's life, neh?

    Yeah I have stories about Jim Hall in his last days. I have stories about Jaco. I have stories about a lot of guys on less than stellar days. It's a really rough life doing what a jazz musician does night after night. Anybody that's close to a junkie has horror stories. The people around them are at a constant loss as to how to express their concern. ' doesn't make one a doofus in my book.
    Maybe keep the bitter vitriol in perspective. Just saying, or asking?
    I'm not expressing any "vitriol" towards MJ, or anyone else. I'm just relating what I overheard MJ and JLB say to each other about the way BE plays ballads.
    As far as my bass player friend, I said he was on a hate rampage against MJ, because MJ got the gig and he didn't, so the doofus remark was obviously part of his warped view of MJ.
    If you read JLB's book about the last year of the BE Trio, he'll probably have quite a few "stories" about BE and MJ, so maybe you shouldn't read it if "stories" affect you so negatively.
    Maybe you should put me on ignore, because I have a tendency to use "stories" about musicians I've worked with and met, to illustrate various points (i.e., the way Bill Evans plays ballads, his reclusive nature). I could reciprocate very easily.

  10. #9

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  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    I'm not expressing any "vitriol" towards MJ, or anyone else. I'm just relating what I overheard MJ and JLB say to each other about the way BE plays ballads.
    As far as my bass player friend, I said he was on a hate rampage against MJ, because MJ got the gig and he didn't, so the doofus remark was obviously part of his warped view of MJ.
    If you read JLB's book about the last year of the BE Trio, he'll probably have quite a few "stories" about BE and MJ, so maybe you shouldn't read it if "stories" affect you so negatively.
    Maybe you should put me on ignore, because I have a tendency to use "stories" about musicians I've worked with and met, to illustrate various points (i.e., the way Bill Evans plays ballads, his reclusive nature). I could reciprocate very easily.
    Reading back on your comment and my contributions to this thread, I can see I've upset you.
    I've taken my posts off this thread. It's a good thread-thanks for starting it. I hope it continues in a positive manner.

  12. #11

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    Local legend has it that Bill’s last performance was at a little jazz club called The Office in Nyack, NY* This would be the type of gig where a band would do a fill in gig on a weeknight as it is close to NYC. The type of gig that would fly under the radar. I’ve often wondered is the legend is true. Maybe the book will reveal maybe not. Will still enjoy the read.

    * For those in the area there is a great little club in Nyack called Maureen’s Jazz Cellar. Nice room for a show. Maureen’s is about a block away from where The Office was.

  13. #12

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    Seems like there was a thread awhile back on musicians (mainly jazz) who made great recordings when they were very near the end of their lives. Stan Getz comes to mind here. Also, non-jazz though playing with jazz musicians, David Bowie, whose last record is an absolute masterpiece.

    I read a Bill Evans bio awhile back. It was tough to read about his later years when he was ill and in the throes of addiction. It reminds me of my very good friend from high school who died from exactly the same issues about 5 years ago. Seeing him in person at that time was like looking death in the face.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    Reading back on your comment and my contributions to this thread, I can see I've upset you.
    I've taken my posts off this thread. It's a good thread-thanks for starting it. I hope it continues in a positive manner.
    I deleted the doofus comment. It wasn't really needed.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    Seems like there was a thread awhile back on musicians (mainly jazz) who made great recordings when they were very near the end of their lives. Stan Getz comes to mind here. Also, non-jazz though playing with jazz musicians, David Bowie, whose last record is an absolute masterpiece.

    I read a Bill Evans bio awhile back. It was tough to read about his later years when he was ill and in the throes of addiction. It reminds me of my very good friend from high school who died from exactly the same issues about 5 years ago. Seeing him in person at that time was like looking death in the face.
    I went to the first screening of the documentary on Bill Evans at The New School. The film didn't have anything that I didn't already know about Bill's life, but the people in the audience reacted with collective gasps as it reached the last part of his life. Helen Keane had presented such a sanitized image of Evans that the audience was literally freaking out when they learned the truth.It was as if they were watching a horror film.

  16. #15

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    OK, I read it. Here's my take:

    If you're looking for good literature read something else. Even with a co-writer the prose style is stiff; bland; the story-telling overly polite. By overly polite I mean the sense of being careful not to offend certain people or their legacies, which makes me wonder if the whole story is there. Certain events and people were sort of written around. I appreciate that LaBarbera wanted to take the high road, but still...(In fairness, there are also legal considerations when writing publicly about public figures. Writers can be sued).The stories are repetitive in places. There are detours into non-Evans Trio gig itineraries that slowed things down for me. Could have used a better editor.

    In the end I'm glad I hung in. I understand that LaBarbera is a musician, not a writer. He WAS coming from the heart to show his appreciation of having been there and love of the music and people involved, especially Bill. And he definitely succeeded in that. I was ultimately moved, and that trumps any stylistic flaws.

    There are good insights into the music, and, yes, the story of Bill Evans' decline after his brother's suicide is there in harrowing, tragic detail. But I like that LaBarbera makes the point that it was a physical/mental---not musical---decline. The tone re Bill's performing and general abilities is reverential, and this is the book's main point and why it was written. LaBarbera WAS brutally honest about one musical flaw: the rushing. He tells about even having confronted Evans about it when it got to be too much. Even that was brought up in the context of how Evans' drug use affected the music.

    Gonna stay on my shelf and be returned to. Read it...
    Last edited by joelf; 11-21-2021 at 02:38 PM.

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by alltunes
    Local legend has it that Bill’s last performance was at a little jazz club called The Office in Nyack, NY* This would be the type of gig where a band would do a fill in gig on a weeknight as it is close to NYC. The type of gig that would fly under the radar. I’ve often wondered is the legend is true. Maybe the book will reveal maybe not. Will still enjoy the read.

    * For those in the area there is a great little club in Nyack called Maureen’s Jazz Cellar. Nice room for a show. Maureen’s is about a block away from where The Office was.
    It wasn't the BE trios' last performance, but it is mentioned in the Itinerary section of the Appendix of the book. The listing is June 13-14, 1980 The Office Jazz Club, Nyack NY. There's no other reference to it.

  18. #17
    Finally read the book, and Joe Elf's (Mark Elf's dwarf little brother?) assessment was very good.
    Other than Davey Tough, many drummers are not renowned for their literary acumen.

    It should be pointed out that other than the short period of time in the last two years of his life when the influence of coke addiction caused BE to rush tempos, BE's time was perfect on all of his non-bootleg albums. The problem was, there were 26 albums (mostly bootleg) recorded in the two year period this book covers, and you have to make the judgement on rushing yourself, or use JLB's judgement if you want.

    When I saw the trio play at the VV for the last time, I didn't enjoy BE's rhythmic/harmonic displacements, but that was 40-years ago, and maybe someday I'll listen to the bootleg album of that night. I play with a pianist who has based his style and BUILT on BE's playing since the age of eleven (he's 67 now) and I love every note he plays, so chances are I wasn't ready for BE's displacements when they first came out.

    There's a lot of interesting info on BE and JLB that was new to me, and that's another plus the book offers.
    Joe Puma, one of my fave players, turned out to be the person that recommended JLB for the group, and one of BE's closest friends. They used to go to Yonkers Raceway together, to bet on the horses. It turned out that Puma had suffered a stroke that affected his left arm, forcing him to make his own guitar at Jimmy D'Aq's shop that would work for his disability.

    One of the central questions JLB brings up over and over again is whether BE wanted to die.
    He weighs the evidence, and concludes that BE did not fear death; he felt that he was happy to accept death as the price he had to pay for living the way that he chose to live.
    If death was the price that he had to pay for succeeding in bringing great music to the world, he would pay that price if he had to.
    BE's friend Gene Lees described BE's life as one long suicide, and one could look at it in that way, but it was more accurately described as Evans' saying, which is constantly brought up again and again,"I follow my code, and am at peace with myself" ( meaning willing to die).

  19. #18

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    Wow...!

    Thanks for the epic journey, folks. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of drama that can be going on behind the beautiful music we hear. I don't know how the two, beauty and drama, can go on at the same time.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    Wow...!

    Thanks for the epic journey, folks. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of drama that can be going on behind the beautiful music we hear. I don't know how the two, beauty and drama, can go on at the same time.
    On the contrary, how can they not? What great art has not come out of conflict?

    (OK I immediately thought of about 10 examples of mellow individuals LOL including Christian McBride, Pat Metheny and Jim Hall…but many if not most of our greats…Beethoven, Shostakovich, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles…created art out of pain. And that’s just musical artists, not even looking at writers like Hemingway and visual artists like Van Gogh.)
    Last edited by Doctor Jeff; 12-14-2021 at 02:53 PM.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    On the contrary, how can they not? What great art has not come out of conflict?

    (OK I immediately thought of about 10 examples LOL including Christian McBride, Pat Metheny and Jim Hall…but many if not most of our greats…Beethoven, Shostakovich, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles…created art out of pain. And that’s just musical artists, not writers like Hemingway and visual artists like Van Gogh.)
    You definitely have a point there. I need look no further than Blues musicians. They might be miserable, but they can still play a happy tune and smile, although even those songs tend to have a hint of sarcasm and pain.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff
    On the contrary, how can they not? What great art has not come out of conflict?

    (OK I immediately thought of about 10 examples LOL including Christian McBride, Pat Metheny and Jim Hall…but many if not most of our greats…Beethoven, Shostakovich, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles…created art out of pain. And that’s just musical artists, not writers like Hemingway and visual artists like Van Gogh.)
    Don't be fooled by that bald head and glasses, Jim Hall struggled with alcoholism at one point in his life.
    I was talking with a friend of mine who lived through the 50s scene the other day, and he knew and played with all the heavyweights back then.
    Guys who you assumed breezed through life without any problems, actually had severe drinking problems.
    Tal Farlow, Sal Salvador, and Jimmy Raney were pretty bad.
    My friend saw Tal at The Composer back in '58, and he said Tal was drinking hard liquor like it was water at the club.It led to his playing issues when he tried to make his comeback after the 50s.
    When Raney said he went back home to KY in the 60s, he didn't mention that he did a stint at the Lexington Treatment Center, which was famous for its program for treating jazz musicians' habits back in the 50s and 60s.

    My friend also worked with Sal Salvador on some of his publications, so he had first-hand experience with SS.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    Finally read the book, and Joe Elf's (Mark Elf's dwarf little brother?) assessment was very good.
    Other than Davey Tough, many drummers are not renowned for their literary acumen.

    It should be pointed out that other than the short period of time in the last two years of his life when the influence of coke addiction caused BE to rush tempos, BE's time was perfect on all of his non-bootleg albums. The problem was, there were 26 albums (mostly bootleg) recorded in the two year period this book covers, and you have to make the judgement on rushing yourself, or use JLB's judgement if you want.

    When I saw the trio play at the VV for the last time, I didn't enjoy BE's rhythmic/harmonic displacements, but that was 40-years ago, and maybe someday I'll listen to the bootleg album of that night. I play with a pianist who has based his style and BUILT on BE's playing since the age of eleven (he's 67 now) and I love every note he plays, so chances are I wasn't ready for BE's displacements when they first came out...
    FWIW Mark Elf's father and mine sometimes worked together (as paperhangers). What are the odds of there being two paperhangers with jazz guitarist sons?

    I found the book good to read once, but wasn't all that drawn to re-read it. OK, it's a memoir and loving tribute, not great literature. I can dig that and also appreciate the bringing up of worthy jazz soldiers hardly mentioned, like Puma. Just not something I'd go back to again, unlike many jazz dedicated biogs or autobiogs I can't get enough of (Straight Life; Robin D. G. Kelley's Monk tome).

    I never could get next to Evans's time feel in any period. Just played very on top and never really swung for me. The Miles period was his most swinging playing I think. Earlier, Concerto for Billy the Kid with George Russell was very on top playing, though the ideas were brilliant. Re the later trios: The Eddie Gomez period recordings sound nervous to me, both Bill and Gomez. Not a huge Gomez fan. The treble clef soloing sounds plinky to me and his counterpoint was a bit overbearing and obtrusive, not a dialog, as with LaFaro. I know Johnson was young, in awe of the group, and figuring things out. Overplaying in that situation is understandable. The drummers in those trios seemed on alert to hold it together. Not saying those two aren't fine musicians or great bassists or disputing their sincerity or contributions. It just never quite felt comfortable to me. OTHO those trios were always reaching out, and THAT part is exciting.

    Evans's rhythmic displacement from early on came out of Tristano to me, not the black masters. (Before I'm tarred and feathered for that statement let me add that I have deep respect for him for being himself and not a copycat or generally something he wasn't. He respected a culture he wasn't born into enough to leave it alone and find something, after soul-searching, honest and his own to contribute. That was a beautiful and courageous thing). You can really hear it on the Marian McPartland Piano Jazz show, when he demonstrates his displacement concepts (and explains them quite articulately). It's great stuff, but the tempo starts to get away from note one. I think his rhythmic contribution was to bring elements of classical music to jazz, like superimposed meters, and to me that shows Tristano's influence. He was much warmer and more human though.

    Evans was a genius who made many important contributions: sensitivity; touch; the pretty much unprecedented conversational treatment of the piano trio; his sense of repertoire and own compositions; his beautiful harmonic thinking on ballads. He was a giant. I just have to listen to him in another way than I do to, say, Monk.

    He belongs in the pantheon based on his own merits...
    Last edited by joelf; 12-15-2021 at 09:22 PM.

  24. #23
    As I said, the displacement thing really befuddled me mind, and MMc's statement on her radio show was; ""It's like swimming against the tide!", the poor lass.

    I'll leave the criticism for the critics, but there was definitely something different going on betwixt the Evans of the mid 70s and the Evans of June of 1980. Gerard D. was there that night (and he makes an appearance at Bill's 50th Birthday Party in the book), and I didn't even want to talk to him, I was so bugged at the unswingingness of that night. Who knew that his brother committed suicide, his marriage with Nenette fell apart, and he was mainlining coke and dying.

    Bill showed he could hold his own with anyone; he fit right in with Roy Haynes and Paul Chambers on Oliver Nelson's "BATAT", but no one ever mentions that. Or that Wynton Kelly couldn't play what Miles wanted to hear on "Kind of Blue", and he had to call Evans. Or that he had to leave Miles after seven months of taking crap from 'Trane, Chambers and Cobb (according to Gene Lees).
    Last edited by sgcim; 12-17-2021 at 01:20 AM.