Feb 6, 2013
Bill Evans was used to working with great musicians when he entered a New York City studio fifty years ago today. Evans was 33 years old, and had already been the mainstay of bands with George Russell, Miles Davis, Benny Golson, Jim Hall, Tadd Dameron, Kai Winding and both Cannonball and Nat Adderley. He had recorded on a number of undeniable masterworks, including Davis’ Kind of Blue, Oliver Nelson’s Blues and the Abstract Truth, and his own Portrait in Jazz (with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian).
What he had in mind on February 6, 1963 was to record himself playing – well, if you pardon the parlance - with himself. Using the piano the great Glenn Gould had used for his famous classical recordings, Evans overdubbed himself on a series of tracks that would eventually become Conversations with Myself. Technology for recording was increasing rapidly, and Evans used the abilities of engineers and editors to overdub multiple parts on tape to create something new and different in the jazz world.
He would release eight of these self-collaborations on Conversations with Myself later in the year. The album contained two Monk tunes, five show or movie songs, and an Evans original, “N.Y.C.’s No Lark”. He recorded that final tune first, returning three days later to lay down five more. The album was finished on May 20th.
Evans would go one to record two more albums of “conversations”, one in 1967, another in 1978, two years before his untimely death.