One of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century was pianist Bill Evans, whose music has inspired a new tribute album by veteran pianist and vocalist Eliane Elias. VOA's Doug Levine fills us in.
Eliane Elias was six-years-old when she learned to play piano in her native Brazil. She got her first taste of jazz by listening to her mother's record collection, which included albums by Bill Evans.
Elias was so enamored of Evans' style she used to transcribe his recordings, note for note. Even after moving to the U.S. and her subsequent rise to international acclaim, she never lost her appreciation for Evans' innovative fusion of classical and jazz, a form known as "Third Stream" jazz.
Elias thought about recording a Bill Evans tribute album for years, but it wasn't until her husband, bassist Marc Johnson, played her a tape of Evans' final sessions, that it became a reality.
Elias and Johnson combed Evans' vast catalog, and settled on some of his most-famous works, including his signature piece, "Waltz For Debbie." Elias' tribute album also features jazz standards Evans was known to perform, a few tunes Evans wrote but never recorded, and one original song.
Achieving an emotional connection to Evans' music was a prerequisite for the making of Something For You: Eliane Elias Sings And Plays Bill Evans. "Bill's music was very influential to me in my early years of development," Elias says, adding that, "His beautiful sound and sense of harmony affected me deeply."
Backed by Marc Johnson on bass and Joey Baron on drums, Eliane Elias performs Bill Evans' favorite, "Blue In Green."