Friday, December 14, 2012

An identity challenge taken in stride

Jazz pianist and composer William Evans splits the bulk of his time between Florida's Tampa Bay area, where he has lived part-time since 1984, and Switzerland, where he teaches and performs frequently.

William Evans with bassist Dominic Mancini,
drummer Dane Hassan and clarinetist Paul Vrakas
Like most musicians, he travels a lot and is tough to difficult to pin down, particularly on the Information Highway. Google jazz pianist William A. Evans and you’ll find 80 or more pages about jazz giant Bill Evans. No matter that Bill Evans was William J. (for John). William Evans says he is often teased about the name similarity but has a different outlook about it. 

“I feel honored to have the same name as the great Bill Evans,” he says. “His shoes are too big to fill, but I just try to use it as motivation to always do the best job possible regardless of the circumstances. As long as I consistently make the effort to uphold the integrity of the name (his and mine), I'll always be headed in the right direction. I'd like to think Bill Evans would concur.”  

The Detroit native’s specialties are jazz, blues and R&B. He says much of his focus this year was on studio work for different projects. One of them is a Quartet Collective project with three fine European jazz musicians – tenor saxophonist Andy Scherrer, bassist Stephan Kurmann and drummer Jorge Rossy, who was a member of the first iteration of pianist Brad Mehldau’s trio. Evans says the group’s first studio recording will be released in May on the Switzerland-based jazz label TCB.

My first opportunity to hear William Evans was at Tuesday night’s South County Jazz Club jam at Allegro Bistro in Venice, FL. It won’t be the last. Hearing his take on the standards was a treat. You can check out his range of work here.

1 comment:

  1. William Evans indeed is a fine unsung modern pianist, based mostly in the Tampa area but always on the move. Fine musician and great guy.

    I got to know William a little in the mid-90s, when he contributed a trio version of Monk's "Let's Call This" to "Monk in the Sun," a 1996 CD that I produced. The CD, also featuring Nat Adderley, Jeff Berlin and others, got nice airplay locally (most played on WUSF that year, I think) and a little bit nationally, and picked up a few reviews, as well as a segment on the old national "Jazz South" radio program.

    Ken, send me your address and I'll send a copy your way.