The Hand of Bill Evans

I just saw this over on Casa Valdez Studio, the blog of saxophonist David Valdez.  Supposedly it is a scan of Bill Evans‘ handwritten manuscript for a 1971 recording session.  Evans was not only one of the most influential pianists of jazz, but was also a innovative composer as well.

Time Remembered is a challenging tune to improvise over.  The root movement is mainly what you would expect, but sometimes the chord quality (major, minor, etc.) often isn’t.  Check out mm. 5-6 in the image above to see what I mean.  The root movement of A, D, to G is the common ii-V-I pattern, but all three chords are minor.  I also love how Evans chooses the upper extensions of the chords as melody notes (9th, 11th, 13th).

One of my composition teachers once brought a stack of photocopies of handwritten music by John Scofield he had gotten somewhere (he wouldn’t say).  It was really cool to look at what Scofield had written and hear the recording to see how much was actually improvised and how much was pre-composed.

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