Monday, September 10, 2007

Excerpt from That Sunday by Adam Gopnik

Orrin Keepnews on Bill Evans:
The trouble with Bill - and, as much as anything, that was the cause for our deciding to record him live - was always persuading Bill to play at all. He had very low self-esteem. That's what drew him to Scott. Scott was already a rumor even before he was a whisper - everyone had heard of this phenomenal bass player, and when they started working together what was clear from the first was that Bill had something very different in mind from the normal interplay of piano with bass. Most so-called trio records are just an accompanied piano player - the bass player's function is to emancipate the pianist's left hand. Bill was looking for something very different - a joined-together kind of thing.

"We chose Sunday because we knew that we had two shows, the afternoon matinee and the evening show, and we would have both. Live recording was pretty much in its infancy. Today, you'd have a van with a studio inside, but we just had portable Ampex equipment, which I think we lined up by the banquette. Bill was tough, of course. Even after we had made the first record with the trio, he didn't believe that he had enough to express. He was brutally self-critical. I used to joke about forming a Demon Band of musicians who never thought they were good enough, never thought they had got it right. The Demon Band would have included Sonny Rollins on sax, J.J. Johnson on trombone, Wes Montgomery on guitar, and Bill on piano. It seemed to have an inordinate number of my musicians. Finally, I realized that the Demon Band could never really exist, because we could never find a drummer. No drummer suffers from self-doubt."

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