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Label Watch: Bill Evans’ E3 Records

Bill and Evan Evans

Arguably the greatest and most influential jazz pianist of the past 50 years, Bill Evans began recording on commercial labels at the relatively advanced age of 27. By then his style was already original, although it would evolve. How Evans developed prior to ’56 has been a matter of conjecture, as it had not been documented. But now, thanks to Evan Evans, Bill’s 24-year-old son and a film composer in his own right, we’re going to get some answers. Evan has established his own label, E3 Records (www.e3records.com or www.billevans.org), and is in the process of issuing at least 20 hours of private recordings that Bill made from 1943, when he was 14 (he began playing professionally at 12), to 1955. The Very Early series will initially contain five CDs, issued chronologically, containing tapes Bill made while he practiced as a young man. These will include Bill playing blues, boogie woogie and bop unaccompanied, in trios and with small combos and big bands and performing and conducting classical pieces, such as a brass octet he wrote while a college student. Another series, the Practice Tapes, will contain material he recorded later in his career.

Evan was only five when Bill passed away, but became absorbed in his music. He recalls events leading up to his founding of E3: “I was just starting to fulfill my dream of becoming a film composer when I happened upon some recordings of my father in some boxes in the attic. I had spent so much time and energy to get to the point when I was finally writing for feature films, and there was such great momentum, that I felt it was necessary to focus on my own career at that moment, although in the back of my mind I knew there would come a time when it would be crucial to examine and preserve the newly discovered recordings. And sure enough, more recently, as my career as a film composer now has a solid foundation, I decided to take a break from my scoring and do myself and the Bill Evans fans the favor of restoring, preserving and producing these historic tapes on my own record label.”

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