Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings › Chapter (peer-reviewed)
|Host publication||Jazz Chameleon: 9th Nordic Jazz Conference Proceedings|
|Place of publication||Helsinki|
|Publisher||Finnish Jazz and Pop Archive|
|Number of pages||13|
Twentieth-century French music played a privileged role in the improvisational thinking of the American modal jazz pianist Bill Evans (1929-80). And these loci offer an ideal opportunity for investigating relations between musical types: from parallels, potential intersections, through to specific eclecticisms, which assimilate, adapt and individualize a given source. Implicit are ‘crossings’ and transformations of genre, culture, national identity and time-frame; at issue are the nature and mutability of music materials. I aim to show the richness and significance of these interactions in two case studies: aspects of Kind of Blue (1959) and ‘Peace Piece’ (1958) in connection with Chopin, Ravel and Messiaen. Evans’s parentage and education meant he was exposed to highly varied music: ‘sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven and works by Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Ravel, Gershwin, Villa-Lobos, Khachaturian, [and] Milhaud’ (Pettinger, Bill Evans: My Heart Sings). I argue that in French repertory, particularly, Evans discovered an affinity with, and catalyst for, his improvisational priorities: lyricism, polyphonic lines, a rich harmonic palette of sevenths/ninths, subtle textures, ‘voicings’ and exquisite tone – a vehicle for expressivity and imagination. Conversely, it is intriguing that relatively old French music has ‘lived on’, re-configured ‘chameleon’-like within a new postwar context.