Bill Evans's Effects On Modern Jazz

1196 words - 5 pages

The term modern jazz generally referred to the musical period after bebop, when musicians begun to approached harmony in different aspect. Modern jazz was often overlooked, often defined as jazz derivation or hybrid and was influenced by variety of musicians; among them was Bill Evans. He was one of the most important jazz pianists, and remained to be one of the most influential musicians of post-bebop jazz, due to his prominent sound that made him recognizable to everyone. According to Bert Konowitz, “Bill Evans Sound is created by using chords in the left hand that often do not have the root of the chord on the bottom, as well as voicing chords with tone clusters” (198). Bill Evan’s sound was distinct and involved unique technique like chord cluster and block chord. Bill Evans was an important figure that influenced the development of modern jazz, including the progress of modal jazz technique, the re-harmonization by chord voicing and the expressivity of jazz.
Bill Evans was an impressionist piano player, influenced by his earlier age of classical music. He learned piano when he was a child and also attended Southeastern Louisiana University majoring in music (Pettinger 14). His educational background on classical music allowed him to improvised and explored the depth of jazz. As Leonard Feather's Encyclopedia of Jazz suggested, "The most personal characteristics of his work were his uniquely delicate articulation, his oblique harmonic approaches and manner of voicing chords, his occasional use of the left hand in rhythmic duplication of the right-hand line, and the ability to create a warm, beautiful mood within the framework of a popular song, a jazz standard or an original work". According to Professor Harrison’s lecture, Bill Evans tend to blur his traditional playing style with his bandmates, bass player Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, which made the notes extremely attractive. Evans gained a nickname of “floating style” due to his ability to de-emphasize on beats and also avoided accents. Bill Evans was a crucial figure with unique playing style that greatly influenced the existing generation and newer generation of modern jazz.
Bill Evans was an innovator due to his musical style incorporating modes into jazz which defined as modal jazz. According to Tom Lanson, “Modal jazz is a style in which the harmonic focus is on modes, or scales, rather than chord progressions. Using modes as a harmonic foundation for music has been used in European music since the Renaissance, but it was pioneered in jazz by George Russell, Bill Evans, and Miles Davis in the late 1950s.” (157) Modal jazz was also described by arrangements that used few changes of modes, giving the music an “impressionistic sound” (157). Soundtracks like “Milestone,” “Your Lady” and “So What” all used modal harmony, a technique which also reappeared in a landmark album Kind of Blue. Evans’s modal jazz technique was very influential in the compositions in Kind of Blue...

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