Interviews Jazz

Rare interview with Bill Evans about Miles Davis and Kind of Blue

The late pianist talked about his time working with Miles and making the most iconic jazz album in history.

I can’t remember where or how I found this but it’s a gem. JAZZ.FM91 published a rare interview with Bill Evans about Miles Davis and how Kind of Blue came about.

After catching a recent screening of the Miles Davis documentary Birth of the Cool, I found it fascinating watching the interplay between musicians, especially the collaborative and compatible moments between Davis and Evans. I came across a blog curated by music college administrator and blogger Allan Chase with a detailed interview with pianist Bill Evans. It was taped by Bill Goldberg at Bill Evans’s Fort Lee, N.J., apartment — not at a radio studio — with interviewer Goldberg, and is shared with his written permission. The second interviewer was Eddie Karp (according to Ashley Kahn), and the only known broadcast was July 4, 1979, on WKCR-FM in New York City, as part of the 126-hour Miles Davis Festival.

The broadcast wasfrom an audio cassette taped off the air live by Lewis Nash, listening in Bronxville, N.Y, then digitized from a copy of the recording in the late ’90s and transcribed by Chase between March 24 and May 8 of 2019.

I could quote the whole thing but it’s best if you read it all yourself as it’s fascinating and insightful. That said, here’s one part:

Did Miles listen to much other jazz or some of the different styles in the late fifties?

Miles was very much an independent person, like, I know that when I was hanging out with him, he liked people as different as, well he was very influenced by Ahmad Jamal for a while. And he loved Blossom Dearie, who I love also. He would get things from people like that he could throw into his own work, and you would hardly know where it was coming from. And I don’t know who all he listened to, but that’s the way he would sort of pick up things, and I don’t think; I think he certainly did listen.

He’s a guy that will turn his mind toward certain areas of music or certain people and decide that there’s somebody or something or an area of music that he can learn from, and then he will. He’s very shrewd in that sense, in that perceptive. And certainly, some of his greatest talents are as a leader and as a person that can perceive talent and potential in people, which is proven out by all of the wonderful talents that have gone through his group.

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