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HARMONY OF BILL EVANS Paperback – May 1, 1994

4.0 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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  • HARMONY OF BILL EVANS
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  • 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: 72 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: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #759,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am a piano player and serious student of jazz. I played professionally for 11 years on a variety of instruments and I probably own every CD that Bill Evans ever made and many other pianists as well. In addition, I have studied both classic and jazz piano, so I have some real credibility in this space.

I have seen mixed reactions to this book and I believe the critical reviews are because very good pianists want the Evans transcriptions, not Bill Evans as interpreted by someone else. However, I don't believe it was the author's purpose to provide transcriptions, but rather to make the music of Bill Evans accessible to beginning-intermediate pianists.

With respect to the goal above, I think the arranger achieved his goal quite admirably. What this book contains is simplified Bill Evans compositions, but the genius here is that the "essence" of Bill's sound and spirit is still present. In my opinion, this is quite a feat particularly when limited to simple arrangements.

The musical score is easy to read, but there are no fingerings provided. This is not a big deal to me, but it might be someone else. For a better pianist, these are excellent for sight-reading purposes because some of the chord changes may really catch you by surprise. I am addressing this point to the classic painists out there with some interest in jazz.

The chords are written above the music, but I think this is not very useful or accurate. If you stick to what is written on the page, you will often conclude that the chords are misnamed. However, they might be quite close to what is in the actual transcriptions. I don't see this as a big minus because you can reharmonize the pieces and use the chord symbols as an alternate interpretation of the harmony.
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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 Verified Purchase
This book is songs written by Bill Evans, arranged for solo piano by Andy Laverne, a respected player and student of Evans. Laverne sets out to serve three purposes: 1) provide solo arrangments for songs that Evans wrote but never (except one or two) recorded alone; 2) provide arrangements that mere mortals lacking Evans' reading skills and chops can play with satisfactory results; and 3) provide examples of techniques that can be used in other songs.

Laverne succeeds on all three counts. It's silly to criticize inauthentic arrangements when there are no Evans solo recordings to transcribe. The Hal Leonard transcriptions are trio arrangements that can't be played solo without substantial tweaking. The arrangements are melody lines played once through. Laverne freely states in the preface that the arrangements are simplified (I'm no great sight reader, but did not find them daunting), so the book cannot be faulted for being misleading. "Simplified" does not mean,"John Brimhall First Grade" arrangements; there are some very dense chords in places. As for techniques to study, the ones I can name off the top of my head include: upper structures, slash chords, polychords, Drop 2 voicing and cluster chords. You could teach several classes from what Laverne left IN the arrangements.

For those with intermediate piano skills that want to study Bill Evans' techniques in a fun way (as opposed to transcribing), this is a great place to start. Those with more time and ambition can combine these arrangements with the Leonard books, do their own transcriptions, or add their own improvisations. Until I find that time, this book will do nicely.
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