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BOOK REVIEWS

The Harmony of Bill Evans - Volumes One and Two

Jack Reilly

Volume One, Sixty Pages, $17.95. Volume Two, Ninety-two pages, $29.99. Volume Two includes CD.

Hal Leonard.

ISBN:Vol 1: 0-7935-3152-7 • Vol2: 978-1-4234-6586-7

The Harmony of Bill Evans - Volume One

Pianist Jack Reilly reached his 80th birthday at the beginning of 2012. During the mid-fifties, after a stint at the US Navy School of Music in Washington DC, Reilly studied at Manhattan School of Music with the great Ludmila Ulehla. Along the way, Reilly met Bill Evans, an event which heavily influenced Reilly‘s development. Later, Reilly played in the pit band at Radio City in Manhattan. He was also the musical director for David Frost‘s television show in America. Reilly is a veteran professional therefore, though his name may not be known to all jazz followers.

When touring in England recently, Reilly worked with Dave Green on double bass and drummer Steven Keogh. Incidentally, Keogh’s name is mis-spelled in the text, and the spelling of the venue where they appeared, Dean Clough, in Halifax, is inconsistent.

Volume One looks at several Evans compositions in detail (fully notated), including Peri’s Scope, Time Remembered, the standards I Should Care, I Fall In Love Too Easily, and How Deep is the Ocean? Volume Two includes a well-produced CD, and notated versions of Maxine, Song for Helen, Laurie, Only Child, Waltz for Debby and several others. Nine pages are devoted to a transcribed interview with Reilly. Unfortunately, the conversation contains some risible statements. For instance, we are told that Ludwig Wittgenstein “Is like the Lennie Tristano of philosophy.”  Philosophers will enjoy the description!

In a mini-glossary of terms Reilly describes the ‘Tristan’ chord as “An artificial/secondary dominant...” Expressed in chord symbols that’s a m7B5, or a half-diminished. However, there is nothing artificial about this chord. Build a pile of diatonic thirds on the leading note, and there you have it. That is, in C, build a chord on the leading note (B), ascending diatonically in thirds. The resulting chord (reading upwards) is B,D,F,A, or Bm7b5.

However, my remarks are little more than critical carping. These folios contain a generous number of musical examples, all given on two staves and well-set. Both folios are worthy of consideration by all serious jazz pianists and teachers.

John Robert Brown

Review first published in Jazz Journal, 2012. Reproduction forbidden without permission.
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