Tune in to The Night Beat with your host Doug Crane on Wednesday evening, August 16 between 8 and 10 pm for a very special program noting the 94th anniversary of the birthdate of pianist Bill Evans. Born in New Jersey on August 16, 1929, he passed away at the age of 51 on September 15, 1980.

We’ll not bore you with a lengthy bio of Bill other than to mention with the recent passing of vocalist Tony Bennett, there has been a renewed interest in their duet collaborations recorded in the mid-1970s. Considered classics today, they were largely ignored at the time of their release. Please follow the links below for a snippet of their appearance on The Tonight Show and more from 1975 taken from “May the Music Never End”, a 2007 PBS American Masters documentary about Tony Bennett and “Together Again”, a 30-minute program Bill and Tony recorded for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 1976.

I saw the Bill Evans Trio perform only once at Gilly’s, a jazz club located in Dayton, OH along with a young woman I was dating at the time in the fall of 1978.  Needless to say, it was a great show/concert. My girlfriend was so impressed by it that she said something like “I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m seeing you but now I think I know why” on our drive home. I thought it was a compliment at the time.

The trio was still in a bit of transition as Bill’s search for a drummer to replace Eliot Zigmund was not quite over. Bassist Marc Johnson was part of the trio by this time but drummer Joe LaBarbera would not join until a few months later in January 1979.

I was thinking I’d play just a few tracks featuring Bill Evans and/or his compositions on Wednesday evening. As I continue to select music for the show it’s rapidly closing in on an entire 2-hour block of music with Bill as both a leader and as a sideman including recordings by Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Chet Baker, George Russell and the afore-mentioned Tony Bennett.

Here are the links to the Tony Bennett/Bill Evans videos:

PBS “American Masters” and CBC “Together Again”

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