Bill Evans

How My Heart Sings

Peter Pettinger

View Inside Price: $18.95


August 11, 2002
366 pages, 5 x 7 3/4
40 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300097276
Paper

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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.

"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

"One of the most moving and informative jazz books of recent years. . . . For its sensitive sympathetic and insightful look at the artistry of Bill Evans, How My Heart Sings makes a valuable contribution."—Joel Roberts, All About Jazz

"This is the first biography of one of the most influential jazz artists ever to tickle the ivories. . . . [It] includes a full discography, dozens of photographs, and analyses of Evans’ expressive technique and compositional methods."—Paul Wilson, Bloomsbury Review

"The greatest strength of Pettinger's writing is that, analyzing Evans' recorded legacy, almost piece by piece, he tells how Evans did it—that is, what to listen for—in terms fully accessible to the lay listener. So this is not an exposé or analysis of a 'tortured' artist, but a fine music lover's reference about a nonpareil artist."—Booklist

"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

"Reading How My Heart Sings, with Evans's eloquent, challenging music playing in the background, is a wonderful experience, there for the taking."—Larry Nai, Cadence

"Pettinger's approach is at once delightfully insightful and detailed in terms of musical analysis. . . . A much-needed addition to the growing list of respectable biographies of the greatest figures in the first century of jazz history. . . . An excellent choice for collections supporting studies of popular music at all levels."—Choice

"Peter Pettinger’s ambitious new volume is a concentrated work that aspires to fill a gap in jazz biography that has been left open too long. . . . A comprehensive endeavor and . . . a satisfying contribution. . . . Well-researched."—Michael Borshuk, Coda

"Indispensable. . . . The 40-page discography alone will be cherished as will the author's dogged research into the circumstances surrounding all important Evans recordings and trio personnel changes. . . . Through interviews with friends and colleagues, Evans own utterances and the author's insider knowledge of the piano, the book contains many insights into Evans' music."—Jeff Bradley. Denver Post

"[This book] is simply beautifully written and will probably become a model for future authors seeking to complete a classic biography."—Lee Bash, Jazz Educators Journal

"Accessible to non-musician and including a complete discography, Pettinger's book is highly recommended for Evans fans."—Jazz Insider

"Pettinger's strength as a listener and analyst makes this an essential book about Evans. . . . This fine book will be a part of the foundation for Evans scholars to come."—Doug Ramsey, Jazztimes

"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

"[A] welcome full-scale biography."—Grover Sales, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Beautifully written and researched. . . . It should be required reading for all who dabble with the elementary jazz sounds to the serious jazz pianists of today and, as Bill Evans himself would have said, those of tomorrow."—Richard Michael, Music Teacher

"The sad, rich, influential life of jazz pianist Bill Evans as told by fellow pianist Peter Pettinger, who certainly knows the score. Evans died in 1980, a slow suicide caused by drugs, malnutrition and self-neglect. But what a body of work he left behind (among it, 164 albums, not counting reissues). Dig it."—Bill Bell, New York Daily News

"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

"In this through and very readable biography, Evans emerges as something of a hero for sticking to his aesthetic values in the face of commercial pressures and changing fads. This may be one reason why Evans remains a figure of great interest to jazz fans and musicians nearly twenty years after his death. . . . This biography is highly recommended."—Allan Chase, Notes

"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 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

"Pettinger chronicles in detail Evan's endless search for empathy and expression of emotion within his perennial context, the piano trio, and his famous successes within that context. . . . How My Heart Sings is told with a simplicity and calm momentum that are reminiscent of Evan's music itself; it shows facility supported by scholarship and research."—Jon Rodine, Rain Taxi

"A thoroughly researched, well-written biography of the soft-spoken but troubled jazz pianist."—San Francisco Examiner Magazine

"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

"A stark—yet refreshingly lyrical—document of a jazz pianist who said more with his music than with his indulgences."—Chet Williamson, Worcester Weekly

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