Tony Bennett & Bill Evans

Biographie Tony Bennett & Bill Evans

Tony Bennett & Bill Evans
Tony Bennett
Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto in New York, Bennett served in the US Army and fought several battles towards the end of World War II. Encouraged by his army general to pursue singing as a career, Bennett appeared on an Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout Show and was asked to open for Pearl Bailey. He received his first record deal with Columbia in 1950, but didn’t strike gold until his last recording session with “Because of You.”

Bennett performed his single, “Because of You” to Sullivan audiences on September 23rd, 1951 (his first performance ever on the show). Already a number one hit, the song remained on the charts for 31 weeks. Bennett continued to be asked back to The Ed Sullivan Show and wound up appearing a total of 18 times throughout the show’s run. Ed Sullivan coincidentally presented Bennett with a gold record after his song “Rags to Riches” sold over a million copies. Bennett was also awarded the chance to perform with other big artists on The Ed Sullivan Show, among them Count Basie and the Woody Herman Band on two separate occasions in 1967. Over the years, Bennett performed his own hits like “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” and his version of standards like “It Had to be You,” and “What the World Needs Now” on the Sullivan stage.

After years of popularity, Bennett hit a rough patch both personally and professionally, that would last until 1986. During that time, many artists had a tough time trying to reinvent their images and stay relevant. Bennett went through a divorce, drug addiction, and even lost his recording contract. He tried recording contemporary music, but could not shake off his love of jazz. In 1986, he recorded “The Art of Excellence,” and it was his first album to chart since 1972. His son Danny helped expose him to a younger audience by booking him on David Lettermen and securing an MTV Unplugged special. Through that turnaround and the realization that younger audiences could still like jazz in this new generation, his musical career bounced back in full force. He has won 15 Grammies, 2 Emmies and was a Kennedy Center Honoree. Bennett has sold over 500 Million records, continues to perform, and is an accomplished painter.

Bill Evans
was born in Plainfield, New Jersey and attended Southeastern Louisiana University. After a period in the Army, he returned to New York in 1955 and began working and recording with Tony Scott and George Russell. His subtly swinging, lucidly constructed solos with these leaders quickly attracted attention, and provided Evans with an opportunity to begin recording under his own name; but he was modest regarding his gifts, and for a time was reluctant to push himself into the limelight. All this changed after he spent several months during 1958 in Miles Davis's band, where he played alongside John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley, and became a central figure in Davis's shift to modal improvisation.

The period with Davis allowed Evans to organize his own trio, which featured bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian by the end of 1959. These three players developed a new and more interactive approach to trio playing, one in which all instruments carried melodic responsibilities and functioned as equal voices. LaFaro's tragic death in a July 1961 highway accident ended the existence of this seminal unit; but not before it had recorded four albums, two in the studio and two at a Village Vanguard performance shortly before the bassist's death, that influenced several generations of pianists, bassists, and drummers.

While Evans excelled in even more intimate playing situations—he made memorable duet music with guitarist Jim Hall, singer Tony Bennett, and bassist Eddie Gomez, and on more than one occasion created fascinating studio recitals of multi-tracked piano—for the remaining two decades of his life, he continued to work in the trio format he had established with LaFaro and Motian. Personnel rarely changed in the Evans trio (Gomez was a member from 1966-1977, while drummers Marty Morell and Eliot Zigmund performed in the trio alongside Evans and Gomez from 1968-1974 and 1975-1977, respectively), and the unit's repertoire slowly grew to include evocative new originals and worthy standards, as well as the tunes that led to Evans's initial fame.

Despite this consistency of format and material, Evans remained uncommonly inspired, able to reach stunning emotional depths with a quiet lucidity that was unmatched. His lyrical melodic inventions, intricate phrasing, complex voicings, and beautiful touch remain as unmistakable influences on pianists more than 40 years after his death.

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