Bill Evans plays ‘Danny Boy’

Written by Joseph Li

Pianist and Coach

In category: Song of the Day

Published May 14, 2018

These days I find myself more on the vulnerable side of my reality, not the intellectual one, so I give you this week’s selections desiring little more than for you to listen. Listening with an open mind, much less an open heart, too often runs contrary to my noise-filled existence. This first song, “Danny Boy,” appears on Time Remembered, a compilation album of songs that remained unreleased for some time. It marks Evans’ return to the recording studio after a year spent grieving the death of Scott LaFaro, his trio bassist, who was killed in a car accident. Evans showed up to the studio alone, played four tunes, and walked out – or so the story goes.

I share the notion with many of you that time is money, but the 11-minute price tag on this song seems like nothing if you’re willing to sit with him as he musically figures out how to breathe again. The space, sparseness, and tender hesitation of every note he plays in the beginning unravel the knots of my heart every time, and in doing so, remind me of why I do what I do.

For a man whose fingers could fly across the keyboard in a desperate attempt to keep up with his creative genius, Evans doesn’t even start embellishing the melody until after four and a half minutes in.

author: Joseph Li

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Seattle native Joseph Li has played and coached for Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and the Aspen Opera Theater Center. Last summer at Wolf Trap Opera he conducted Philip Glass’ chamber opera The Fall of the House of Usher in collaboration with the Halcyon Stage in Washington, D.C.; and performed in a two-piano recital alongside Steven Blier, Artistic Director of the New York Festival of Song. Mr. Li joined the faculty of Baylor University’s School of Music in 2016. Recent collaborations include appearances with Minnesota Opera, Arizona Opera, Lone Star Lyric, MATCH Theater, and the Dallas Museum of Art.


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