While living in New York for a few months in the early 1970s (after my first year of college), I often heard Bill Evans at a place in Greenwich Village, the Top of the Gate, where, for the price of a beer, you could linger all night. Hunched over the piano, he looked at times as if he was about to fall inside and disappear.
Bill Evans, “My Foolish Heart,” live (TV broadcast), Sweden, 1964
Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Fred Hersch, Brad Mehldau: the list of piano players who wouldn’t sound the way they do but for Bill Evans, whose approach to harmony made him the most influential piano player in jazz since Bud Powell, goes on and on and on.
The ‘open’ voicings that [Bill] Evans used [i.e., leaving out a chord’s root note] were not new . . . . They had been there in ‘classical’ music since the early part of the century, since Bartok and Stravinsky. But they were new to jazz, and they opened up melody and flow in new ways.—Martin Williams, The Jazz Tradition (2d ed. 1983)
Bill [Evans] had this quiet fire that I loved on piano. The way he approached it, the sound he got was like crystal notes or sparkling water cascading down from some clear waterfall.
—Miles Davis (in Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe, Miles: The Autobiography )