Bill Evans Photography

Bill Evans

Bill Evans was one of the most influential pianists in jazz and is often given credit for inventing the jazz piano trio. Classically trained on piano, with degrees in performance and composition, he brought a European classical sensibility into jazz that spawned a school of “Bill Evans style” performing that continues to influence musicians and composers today.

Evans recorded his first album, New Jazz Conceptions, in 1956, which also featured the first recording of his best-known composition, “Waltz for Debby.” His big break, though, came when he joined the Miles Davis sextet, performing alongside legends John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on the breakthrough Kind of Blue in 1959—generally held to be the greatest and most enduring jazz album ever recorded.

Like many jazz icons of his era, Evans’ self-destructive tendencies and addictions resulted in a tragic early death. Music critic Gene Lees described Evans’ struggle with drugs as “the longest suicide in history.” Evans is the recipient of five Grammys, a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and an induction into the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame.

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