His inescapable influence on the very sound of jazz piano has touched virtually everybody of prominence in the field after him—as well as most of his contemporaries, and he remains a monumental model for jazz piano students everywhere, even inspiring a newsletter devoted solely to his music and influence.
Speaking of influences, during young Evans’ life, it was Harry—his older brother—who was his first influence. Harry was the first one in the family to take piano lessons, and young Bill began at the piano by mimicking him. It was during this time that the idea of doing something in music that somebody hadnt thought of opened a whole new world to him. This idea became the central one of his musical career.
Evans mother was an influence, too. She was an amateur pianist who had piles of old music sheets, which the young Bill read through. gaining breadth and above all speed at sight-reading. This enabled him to explore widely in classical literature, especially 20th century composers. He once remarked, and I quote: "Its just that Ive played such a quantity of piano. Three hours a day in childhood, about six hours a day in college, and at least six hours now. With that, I could afford to develop slowly. Everything Ive learned, Ive learned with feeling being the generating force.” He further added that playing Bach a lot helped him gain control over tone and improved his physical contact with the keyboard.
Evans received a music scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana University, and graduated with a degree in piano performance and Music Education in 1950. In college, he discovered the work of Horace Silver, Bud Powell, Nat King Cole, and Lennie Tristano, who was to have a profound influence on him. Later, he took postgraduate studies in composition at the Mannes College of Music in New York, where he also mentored younger music students. As a teacher, personal students of