William John Evans (August 16, 1929 – September 15, 1980) was an American jazz pianist and composer. He was one of the most famous jazz pianists of the 20th century. His use of impressionistic harmony, his inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire and his syncopated and polyrhythmic melodic lines influenced a generation of pianists.
- I went through a lot of mental pains and anguish about choosing between jazz and classical. I realized that where I functioned was where I should be, and where I functioned was in jazz, so that was it.
- Music should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise. It's easy to rediscover part of yourself, but through art you can be shown part of yourself you never knew existed. That's the real mission of art. The artist has to find something within himself that's universal and which he can put into terms that are communicable to other people. The magic of it is that art can communicate to a person without his realizing it... enrichment, that's the function of music.
- I always like people who have developed long and hard, particularly through introspection and a lot of dedication. I think that what they arrive at is usually...deeper and more beautiful...than the person who seems to have that ability and fluidity from the beginning. I say this because it's a good message to give to young talents who feel as I used to. You hear musicians playing with great fluidity and complete conception early on, and you don't have that ability. I didn't. I had to know what I was doing. And ultimately it turned out that these people weren't able to carry their thing very far. I found myself being more attracted to artists who have developed through the years and become better and deeper musicians. I believe in things that are developed through hard work.
- As quoted in 'Metaphors for the Musician' by Randy Halberstadt. ©2001 Sher Music.
- As the painter needs his framework of parchment, the improvising musical group needs its framework in time.
- Kind of blue liner notes.
- [Bill Evans talking about Miles Davis's change of style to jazz fusion] I would like to hear more of the consummate melodic master, but I feel that big business and his record company have had a corrupting influence on his material. The rock and pop thing certainly draws a wider audience. It happens more and more these days, that unqualified people with executive positions try to tell musicians what is good and what is bad music. It’s tempting for the musician to prejudice his own views when recording opportunities are so infrequent but I for one am determined to resist the temptation.
About Electric music instruments
- I am interested in other keyboard sounds, but basically I'm an acoustic pianist. I’ve been happy to use the Fender-Rhodes to add a little colour to certain performances but only as an adjunct [...] It's hard for people to recognize individuals on an electric piano. Because it is an electric instrument, it's hard for a personality to come through.
- Interview with Chris Albertson, The Jazz Set, 1971.
- I don't think too much about the electronic thing, except that it's kind of fun to have it as an alternate voice. Like, I've used the Fender- Rhodes piano on a couple of records. I don't really look on it as a piano— merely an alternate keyboard instrument, that offers a certain kind of sound that’s appropriate sometimes. I find that it’s kind of a refreshing auxiliary to the piano— but I don't need it, you know. I guess it’s for other people to judge how effective it’s been on my records; I enjoyed it, anyway. I don't enjoy spending a lot of time with the electric piano. I mean, if I play it for a period of time, then I quickly tire of it, and I want to get back to the acoustic piano.
- Interview with Les Tomkins, 1972.
- It just doesn’t attract me. I’m of a certain period, a certain evolution. I hear music differently [...] I mean, for me, comparing electric bass to acoustic bass is sacrilege.