"Bill Evans" by Peter Pettinger

Bill Evans How My Heart Sings Peter Pettinger

Publication date:
11 Aug 2002
Yale University Press
366 pages: 197 x 127mm
40 b-w illus.


This enthralling book is the first biography in English of Bill Evans, one of the most influential of all jazz pianists. Peter Pettinger, himself a concert pianist, describes Evans’s life (the personal tragedies and commercial successes), his musicmaking (technique, compositional methods, and approach to group playing), and his legacy. The book also includes a full discography and dozens of photographs.

Peter Pettinger was an international concert pianist for more than twenty-five years. His many recordings include the Bartók sonatas with the violinist Sándor Végh, the Elgar sonata and a jazz album with the violinist Nigel Kennedy, and Elgar’s works for solo piano.

"Pettinger understands what sets the pianist apart, and explains with a minimum of technical language and just enough musical transcriptions to get his key points across. . . This is an ideal companion for those who want to 'understand' Evans in the most important way, through listening."—Bob Blumenthal, Boston Globe

"Peter Pettinger writes frankly in his fine new biography of what was no secret to Evans's appalled colleagues: The most influential jazz pianist of the past half-century was addicted to drugs—first heroin, then cocaine—for much of his adult life."—Terry Teachout, New York Times Book Review

"[A] fine new biography . . . packed with . . . shrewd critical commentary."—Terry Teachout, New York Times Book Review

"Peter Pettinger sets out to catalog and explain Evans’ wide-ranging genius. . . . The making of every important Evans recording is discussed, and as he follows the extreme ups and downs of a career vexed by heroin addiction and other problems, Pettinger shows how the personal helped shape the artistic sensibility of this jazz innovator."—Tom Moon, Philadelphia Inquirer

"Pettinger . . . has thoroughly researched Evans’s life, reading the available literature and tracking down the pianist’s associates for commentary, and he has listened assiduously to the Evans catalog, which is no small feat given its enormousness."—Adam Bresnick, Wall Street Journal

"Pettinger provides a portrait of Evans that will serve as a foundation for further investigation of this quiet jazz giant. Recommended for jazz fans and music buffs."—Library Journal

"Pettinger is eminently qualified to assay Evan’s evolution as a pianist, and students of Evan’s music will no doubt enjoy the author’s references to Evan’s scores and academic excursions."—Publishers Weekly

"A fine new biography. . . . Pettinger, a concert pianist, is brilliant in describing, with a technical precision which is nonetheless accessible to the non-musician, what Evans was up to. Its a good read."—S.D. Feeney, Face Magazine

"Pettinger's book is a reliable guide, but its chief asset is the late author's insight and enthusiasm for a unique performer."—Brian Priestly, Piano

"One of the great perfectionists of jazz has been given a biography worthy of gifts."—Michael Kerrigan, The Scotsman

Selected as a 1998 Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review

Winner of the 1999 ASCAP–Deems Taylor Award in the Pop Books Category

"Peter Pettinger’s book on pianist Bill Evans is one of the best jazz biographies I have ever read. It is beautifully and lovingly written, meticulously researched, and filled with deep insight into Evans’s personality and musicmaking."—Barry Kernfeld, author of What to Listen for in Jazz

"This book is likely to become a classic. There is nothing quite like it in the history of jazz. A concert pianist looks at the work of a jazz pianist whom many authorities consider one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century. Pettinger hears all sorts of subtleties as only a fellow pianist can. He is also a felicitous and interesting writer. This is a brilliant piece of extended analysis."—Gene Lees