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HARMONY OF BILL EVANS Paperback – May 1, 1994


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HARMONY OF BILL EVANS + The Harmony of Bill Evans - Volume 2 + Bill Evans: A Step-by-Step Breakdown of the Piano Styles and Techniques of a Jazz Legend (Keyboard Signature Licks)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: HAL LEONARD CORPORATION (May 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0793531527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0793531523
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Fly By Light VINE VOICE on December 31, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is unique in a couple of ways. It is a compilation of articles on how Bill Evans used harmony. Obviously, Evans' extensive studies in college and beyond went far beyond what one thin book can cover, but it does what it does efficiently and well. The author is an unabashedly effusive fan of Evans and throws this energy into the work to make it as clear and understandable as possible.

Articles include:
Peri's Scope-Harmonic Analysis (includes Evans' intensive regimen for learning new songs)
Peri's Scope-Thematic Analysis (good discussion of developing a musical theme)
Times Remembered-Harmonic Analysis
Times Remembered-Modal Analysis
Times Remembered-Intervalic Analysis
"Funny Man" and "I Should Care" (lots of practical discussion of reharmonization techniques
I Fall in Love Too Easily (more reharmonization)
Twelve Tone Tune (probably of more academic than practical interest)
How Deep is the Ocean (advanced reharmonization)
B Minor Waltz (more advanced reharmonization)

For instant gratification, the book provides a rigorous method for learning new songs. For reassurance, it reminds the reader of how much Bill Evans worked on songs before they were "battle ready" and how long the author took to work out fingerings to one Evans song (eight months). It is amazing that jazz musicians have any time to perform at all, given all the techniques they have to learn. For future reference, the book constantly trumpets the virtue of Arnold Schoenberg's 1911 Theory of Harmony, the influence of which is pointed out periodically in Evans' work.

The book presents articles in a fairly logical order of increasing difficulty.
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Format: Paperback
I suspect there are musicians who get some use out of books presenting the transcribed solos of an Art Tatum or Charlie Parker, but I have yet to meet one who has claimed any benefit from trying to read page after page of seemingly endless note-streams. Thankfully, that is not the approach of this book. Nor is this necessarily the book for the impatient pragmatist who, having recently heard "Kind of Blue" or the 1961 "Village Vanguard Sessions," wants to be able to play like the pianist on the recording.

If you're looking for a simplified approach to sounding like Bill Evans, or for a book offering lots of hand-holding, good luck finding one. Reilly places Evans' music in the category of the greats--Bach, Chopin, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Art Tatum--and, rather than wasting words, devotes sixty solid pages to helping the reader understand not only Evans' greatness but the very criteria by which "greatness"--at least in the areas of music composition and jazz improvisation--must be measured.

In short, it's a book from which any reader with a serious interest in music along with some familiarity with musical notation and a willingness to be challenged by a modicum of theory can benefit. Certainly its relevance should not be limited to Evans' enthusiasts or even to pianists. Erasing the often-superficial, misleading and narrow boundaries between classical and modernist art, "high" art and "popular" art, Reilly is able to "freeze" and then dissect those representative moments of musical consciousness that allow privileged access to creative genius.
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jamie Tatro on March 2, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, though well done, reads more like an academic Master's thesis than a truly "helpful" book. If you've been schooled in jazz theory, it won't be hard to follow the logic of the tunes' analyses; without a strong theory background, however, you'll probably get lost rather quickly. But at some point with these kinds of (academic) books - and there are WAY too many of them out there - you have to wonder how much of this stuff is helpful, how much of it is MUSICAL, and how much of it is academic simply for academic sake. "How many ways is it mathematically possible to dissect this particular tune?" For example, if Wes Montgomery begins a musical phrase with an Eb note over a C minor chord, is Wes "thinking" of it as the third of the C minor chord, or the ninth of a tritone substitution for the G7 chord, or the fifth of an Ab Major 7 chord? Does it matter... as long as it's "musical" and sounds good, as long as it "works?" I found Jack Reilly's book to be a little too immersed in hero worship, and despite his best intentions, more of an oddity than the helpful book I was expecting. If you really want to understand reharmonization, etc., in a way that is both musical AND helpful, try Mark Levine's "The Jazz Piano Book." By the way, I'm a guitarist.
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By Tom Ewall on January 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
The book covers much more than merely the Bill Evans tunes. It does a great job with that too, but just from a general educational standpoint, I found the book to be terrific. The author does a great job breaking down ideas in ways that one can follow what's going on, and in ways that one can apply to one's own playing. For example, in one section he writes out music in three part harmony, then adds a voice to make it four part. By simplifying in this way, it helps one see the author's intent.

A point the author makes is that Bill Evans didn't just happen across the harmonies he used, but a tremendous amount of work into what he did. The author points out some of the exercises Evans went through, and has many suggestions for the reader.

The author analyzes things from many perspectives, sometime focusing more or melody, other times on harmony, voicing, etc. The book was put together as a series of articles which are independent of one another, for the most part (e.g. one article is not a follow-up to a previous one). This way if the reader finds a particular explanation difficult to follow, there's no problem skipping to another section of the book which is more accessible.
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