One of my favorite jazz artists is Bill Evans. Very recently, I was introduced to his adaptation/arrangement of Faure’s Pavane. Have a listen here. Evans only played with Miles Davis for a very short time, but his influence was subtle and deep and lasting.
My wife texted me about the suicide of guitarist Bob Welch a few days ago. My favorite tune of his is this remarkable ensemble effort with Fleetwood Mac. The best musicians seem to lift far above their own individual abilities, offering contributions to a whole that takes a collective effort above the ordinary, or above the expected. It’s my favorite part of making music: doing the unexpected and doing it in a totally new way.
I find myself in lament quite often at the lives and deaths of my elder siblings among musicians. One of Bill Evans’ close friends described his decades-long struggles with heroin and cocaine as “the longest suicide in history.”
My wife suggested many years ago that I should withhold lament for the kind of musician I might have been, had I taken up playing earlier than in my twenties. And who knows? The temptations of substances are an enormous weight around the neck of musicians of all genres. By the time I became a good musician, I was close to finishing grad school, and heading into a settled life as a church musician, not the adventure (and dangers) of gigging with people whose values were not consonant with mine.
So I save my laments for others. Were I in the shoes of a genius, I’d like to think that the art would be enough. But clearly, it is not. God save them, wherever they are.