Jazz Pianist. Bill Evans' mother, an amateur pianist, enrolled him in classical piano lessons starting at age six. He also learned to play the flute and the violin. He started learning to improvise at age 12 in Harry Valentino's band. In his teens, he started playing in New York clubs. Bill won a music scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana University and earned a degree in music performance and teaching in 1950. Thereafter, he toured with Billie Holiday's backing band, led by Herbie Fields. He was then drafted into the U.S. Army. Following his discharge, he returned to New York and performed in nightclubs, in addition to studying composition at Mannes College of Music. He worked as a sideman with jazz greats such as Charles Mingus and Art Farmer. His debut album, which included one of his most memorable compositions, "Waltz for Debby," was released in 1956. In 1958, he joined Miles Davis' sextet. His drug addiction, which included the use of heroin, likely started during his tenure with Davis. Despite his worsening drug problems, in fall 1959 he formed a jazz trio with Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums. By 1961 they had recorded four albums, two of which – "Sunday at the Village Vanguard" and "Waltz for Debby" – are acclaimed as jazz classics. After LaFaro's death, he hired Chuck Israels to play bass and switched to the Verve label for its wider distribution. He won his first Grammy for the album "Conversations with Myself." Eventually, Grady Tate replaced Motian as the trio's drummer. In 1966, he hired bassist Eddie Gomez. With Jack DeJohnette on drums, they recorded "Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival" in 1968. Marty Morell then replaced DeJohnette. The Evans/Gomez/Morell lineup remained unchanged for seven years. Their 1971 recording of "The Bill Evans Album" garnered two Grammies. By 1975, Evans had conquered his longstanding heroin habit. Unfortunately, he replaced heroin with cocaine. In 1975, his son, Evan Evans, was born; but due to Bill's constant touring, he did not have much contact with the boy. After several personnel changes, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera remained with Evans until his death, recording only one album entitled "The Paris Concert." Finally, in 1980, he succumbed to the combined ravages of cirrhosis, hepatitis, pneumonia, and a bleeding ulcer. He rests next to his elder brother, who had passed away the preceding year.
Bio by: countedx58