Pianist Bill Charlap spoke with JazzWax about the legendary Bill Evans (pictured):
JW: Is Evans’ music daunting to interpret, given his cult-like status among audiences?
BC: To be honest, the romantic view of Bill as a brooding artist is important, but there’s so much more. There will certainly be a Bill Evans flavor and mood to what we’re performing, but we’re not attempting to sound exactly like Bill. That would be foolish. We’re interpreting his original music, and hopefully the audience will have a new, spiritual awareness of his compositional skills.
JW: How do you explain the duality of Evans—his musical intensity and his obvious fondness for the common man?
BC: Bill reached so far into himself—becoming deeply introspective, if you will—that an opposite outward result occurred. By reaching so deep inside, his music wound up connecting with a wide number of people on a human level. In other words, the music doesn’t end up being introspective at all. Bill always kept his audience in mind, no matter what he played.
Charlap is the artistic director of 92Y’s Jazz in July festival and he’s dedicating a night to the music of Bill Evans. Hear more about the festival in a conversation between Charlap and WBGO’s Rhonda Hamilton.