Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Bill Evans Universal Mind|
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
The genuine article: essential to knowing the real Bill.
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 03/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the most articulate, insightful Bill Evans I've heard or seen. Near the beginning of the presentation, before Steve Allen's introduction, he debunks the notion that musicians are better music critics than the layman. The musician is so involved in the difficult mechanics of the music that his priority is to maintain the listener's naivete about what's required to produce genuine art (brilliant!). He goes on to refute the notion that jazz is a "style"; it's a "process." With animation, passion, and utmost sincerity he discusses improvisation vs. composing, the "universal mind" that is the birthright of us all, the right choice for the particular individual, teaching and learning. He demonstrates and emphasizes some of the same principles about simplicity, musical form, and the pointlessness of "overplaying" that come out in his much later visit with Marian McPartland on "Piano Jazz."
I've never witnessed a professional who was more generous, insistent, and focused in his advice--in spite of his reputation for reticence and shyness. Moreover, this is not merely an impressive Bill Evans but a likable Bill. He's not the god-like enigmatic persona but a nerdish, rather awkward, downright charming guy with inescapably bad teeth (better to have those in need of repair than his marvelous hands and fingers, which appear as gigantic--in diameter as well as length--as ever. Give his brother Harry much of the credit for drawing out, for once, Bill Evans the musician in the fullest and most real and genuine sense. I've heard so many jazz "instructional" tapes that were pure jive, but this one is the noteworthy exception.
Caveat (besides the comparatively short length and high price): the audio sucks, and even the visuals are occasionally marked by dust, splices and jitteriness. So in the final analysis, it's a video more for the educator or Evans' groupie than for "Junior," who will no doubt fall asleep due to the level of verbal and musical discourse (better Bill had used Twinkle Little Star instead of "Star Eyes" and kept his references to Elvis and the Beatles rather than Mozart and Bach). Also, Steverino's contributions will not make the video any more endearing to a generation unfamiliar with Steve Allen (try showing them The Benny Goodman Story first).
God, those teeth are bad--big gaps, sticking out like one of Jerry Lewis' characters. This is a guy who has had little time to consider anything other than music. The articulateness, the passion, the animation, the sheer candor--Bill transcends the limitations of the medium.
All the same, if this is your first Bill Evans on DVD, reconsider, save yourself 10-15 bucks for now, and pick up the newly released "Oslo Concerts," a beautifully recorded example of two Evans' concerts separated by 14 years."
A Fascinating Document to view once or twice
Brian Whistler | Forestville, CA United States | 06/21/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Right off the bat I have to say that this is a peculiar video. The body of this DVD is a conversation between Bill and his brother Harry that touches upon Bill's musical philosophy. The conversation meanders, touching upon the subject of music education and finding inspiration and creativity through connecting with what Evans refers to as "The Universal Mind". It is interesting to find Evans' ideas so in line with Jung's concept of the Collective Unconscious, but then, Bill had a highly developed intellect and was obviously a well rounded individual, judging from his articulate and almost professorial presentation of his ideas.
During the video, Evans occasionally makes his way to the piano at his brother's bequest to demonstrate some of his ideas, but this is not anything approaching a performance. Each segment of this free ranging conversation is preceded by a somewhat glib introduction by Steve Allen. As much as I admire Mr Allen I found his explanations to be tedious and sophmoric and skipped them the next time I viewed the DVD with a fellow Evans enthusiast.
To sum it up, there is not enough playing on this disc to warrant the label of "music video". As such it will appeal mostly to hardcore Evans afficionados who are curious to experience the man. Having finally acquired a copy of this long lost video, I can say I wish I had just rented it through Netflix. It is not something I am inclined to revisit, except perhaps to share it with another Evans fan. In short, fascinating but not essential viewing. I would recommend the Oslo concerts first. A great pairing of compelling performances and an interesting bonus interview at the end."