25 February 2017
Jazz pianist Bill Evans (seen here as he appears on the cover of the 2016 legacy release Some Other Time) is the subject of a new documentary called Bill Evans: Time Remembered.Courtesy of the artist
Bill Evans was a genius: The jazz world, which can be roiled by factions and jealousies, usually agrees on that. He was a composer and pianist with a light, lyrical touch that was once described as what you might hear at the gates of heaven. But like many geniuses, Evans died too young — in 1980, at the age of just 51, after years of cocaine and heroin addiction.
A new documentary by filmmaker Bruce Spiegel helps capture that genius with interviews of musicians, family members, and archival footage of Bill Evans himself.
"When you listen to some of the songs that he plays, some of the intros that he plays, some of the long compositions, they're emotionally wrought. They just take you to a different place than most normal piano players would go," Spiegel says. "I got a couple kids; they aren't really into jazz. But in the course of making the movie I played [Evans] for them, and they say, 'Jesus, that's pretty good.' So I think it's interesting that people are rediscovering Bill, and part of the reason I'm doing this is because I want people to rediscover Bill. I think he's a great American artist, and I think more people should listen to him and respect the beauty that he was able to create."
Spiegel spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about the eight-year process behind Bill Evans: Time Remembered.
A Complete and Concise Documentary
Bruce Spiegel has produced a complete documentary giving you insights into Bill Evans; not just the musician, but also the person. The film moves chronologically starting with Bill's childhood in New Jersey and culminating with details about his death.
"The film Bill Evans, Time Remembered took me 8 years to make. Eight years of tracking down anybody who knew Bill and who played with him, to try and find out as much as I could about the illusive and not easy to understand Bill Evans. I feel very honored to have had the chance to interview and get to know good guys that spent a lot of time with Bill: Billy Taylor, Gene Lees, Tony Bennett, Jack DeJohnette, Jon Hendricks, Jim Hall, Bobby Brookmeyer, Chuck Israels, Paul Motian, Gary Peacock, Joe LaBarbera. It was a once in a life time experience talking to these gifted talented guys about their time in jazz music, about their “Time Remembered“ with Bill Evans. - Bruce Spiegel"
"The film was a bull's eye at capturing as much as one can capture of someone's music, pain, and life story. My family is forever grateful to your outstanding work." - Debby Evans (Waltz for Debby)"
"The film is musically intriguing and sensitively crafted. Not soppy with just the right amount of honesty regarding his personal life." - Nenette Evans