Published on December 26th, 2020 | by msalt

Bill Evans combo in Finland, 1970

The great (but troubled, junkie) jazz pianist Bill Evans and his combo — Eddie Gomez and Martin Morrel — played at a gorgeous house overlooking a lake in Finland in 1970.

Between songs, they answered questions in a way that’s unusually eloquent for musicians, who often struggle with words — which is why they turn to melody and rhythm. But the point remains the same — that intellectuality and eloquence are steps along the way to something better and deeper.

Q (at 8:20): “You do project an image as an intellectual jazz musician. How far does the intellect go?

Evans: “Uh, only as far as uh, being a student, really. And that’s as far as it can go. Because intellectually, you couldn’t, uh, manipulate intellectually fast enough to play. I mean, jazz is a process that’s not an intellectual process. You use your intellect to take apart the materials and, uh, learn to understand them and learn to work with them. But actually, it takes years and years of playing to develop the facility so that you can forget all of that and, uh, just relax and just play.”

Just like Zhuangzi and the fishtrap (and words). Or butcher Ding.

Anyways, it’s a great performance any way you describe it. I’m not a huge jazz fan, in part because I never quite “get it” when listening to a recording -even if I loved the same piece live in person. Maybe I need the visual for some reason. Well, this half hour film gives you both.

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About the Author

Mark Saltveit is a writer, standup comedian, skimboarder and dad based in Middlebury, Vermont. His improv show "Palindrome Fight!" will be at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Aug. 5-29th 2022 at the Kilderkin Pub, 67 Canongate, at 7:30pm each night except Tuesdays.

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