It is not difficult to measure how much influence the late Bill Evans has exerted over the young pianists of today. The impact of his playing can be heard, in varying degrees, in virtually every pianist that followed him. That's because he changed the way piano players approach the instrument, moving away from a strict bebop vocabulary, and bringing to fore the piano's inherent orchestral abilities through dense harmonies and sweeping melodic lines. Evans employed an introspective approach, gracefully caressing the keyboard with an uncommon subtlety not found in the bop pianists of the fifties. He used chord voicings that were at times ambiguous; he left it up to the to bassist to define the tonic. Evans' level of concentration at the keyboard could be mesmerizing. He would often be in a trance-like state as he allowed the piano to consume both his mind and his body. And although Bill Evans will be sorely missed, his spirit and his influence will be felt for decades to come, thanks in part to Kenny Drew Jr., a gifted and sensitive young pianist who has released this wonderful CD on the TCB Label, entitled This One's For Bill.
No stranger to jazz fans, Kenny Drew Jr. has released a dozen CD's under his own name, and is on countless others as a sideman. Well versed in the classical repertoire, Kenny has immense technique on his instrument, yet there is also a sensitivity and beauty that he exudes in his music. Kenny is quite capable of introspection and contemplation; it is for this very reason that this solo piano outing is so successful. Only in the hands of a master, can the orchestral capabilities of this instrument be fully realized. In this most intimate setting, Kenny clearly orchestrates for his instrument, embellishing each measure of each tune, with an wide array of tonal hues. And if a carefully built phrase, sweeping arpeggio, or mellow cascade of chords puts you in mind of Bill Evans, it's not necessarily your imagination.
Aside from the title cut, which is Kenny's personal tribute to the late Evans, the set of songs on this disc were either penned by Evans, or closely associated with him. Included is a beautiful rendition of "Nardis," a tune Bill played for many years. Although the actual composer of this song has been the subject of much controversy, the piece, with it's exotic melody line and quiet chords, has Bill Evans written all over it. Other highlights from the disc are the song "Suicide Is Painless"(which many will remember as the theme-song from the T.V. show M.A.S.H. ), and a crisp offering of Henry Mancini's "The Day Of Wine And Roses." This latest effort by Kenny Drew is a consistently rewarding CD to listen to, further documenting his continuous growth as a player, and serving to fortify his position as one of the premiere jazz pianists of the 21 century.
Track Listing: This One's For Bill; Remembering The Rain; Suicide Is Painless; It's Love It's Christmas; On Green Dolphin Street; The two Lonely People; The Days Of Wine And Roses; Nardis
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.