In the opening moments of Bill Evans, Time Remembered, a new documentary by Bruce Spiegel, bassist Chuck Israels admits that, despite his long tenure in the pianist’s trio, even he has trouble answering questions about the man behind the artist. “People are interested in who he was, what was he like? Damned if I know, really. But all the information that’s really important is in the music.”
Spiegel’s film is a conventional cradle-to-grave biography, but the filmmaker takes Israels’ admonition to heart: While Evans’ struggles with heroin and the devastating loss of some of those closest to him—bassist Scott LaFaro, brother Harry, partner Ellaine Schultz—are covered, the film’s most valuable moments are those in which his peers discuss and dissect his work. The eight-year process of making the film also means that Spiegel captures testimony from several voices that are no longer with us, including Paul Motian, Billy Taylor, Orrin Keepnews and Jim Hall.