Bill Evans - Transcription Exercises

In this thread we explore the style of Bill Evans; one of the greatest pianists of all time.

Bill Evans Biography:

Download full biography: Bill Evans Biography.pdf (13.0 KB)

Bill Evans is one of the most influential jazz piano players of all time. His career expanded over 4 decades, from bebop and hard bop through the modal and modern jazz.

His piano trio with Scott LaFaro (b) & Paul Motian (dr) was a turning point in a concept of jazz piano trio, where bass and drums had more freedom to collectively take part in the improvisation, not only during their solos.

He also was an important and influential sideman, most notably with Miles Davis, Canonball Adderley, George Russell and Tony Bennet.

Important Discography To Start With:

Download full suggested discography:Bill Evans Discography.pdf (25.1 KB)

What Do These Exercises Cover?

  • Exercises on this thread are built to give the students a deeper view on Bill Evans’ style, soloing, comping as well as an overall look into the tradition of jazz through his artistry.

  • Exercises are transcription-based, following with a closer look into certain details of his playing. This way we can combine ear-training with learning the language of jazz, as well as analyzing closely what is happening.

Transcription Exercise No. 1

Autumn Leaves (Take 1) - (Album: Portrait In Jazz 1960)

This transcription exercise covers the first 2 choruses of the piano solo starting at 2m00s.

Click here for the start of the solo, and find the full recording below on YouTube and Spotify:

The Assignment:

Transcribe the missing parts of the following transcription:

Autumn Leaves Transcription Exercise.pdf (55.5 KB)

  • Right hand: transcribe the missing bars

  • Left hand: transcribe only the rhythm of the comping in the same way it’s written out in the other parts

The full transcription will be posted in 2 weeks with an analysis of the solo as well as details about what we can learn from the solo/comping.

If you have any questions with the exercise, post them in this thread.

Have fun!

-Tuomo

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Looks to be a challenging set of exercises. I didn’t realize that Evans lived that long: “His career expanded over 40 decades. . . .” :joy:

Whoops, good spot Scott!.. I have corrected that typo.

Here’s some extra guidance for students new to transcription:

  • To begin with transcription is very difficult, particularly if we haven’t done any ear training in the past.

  • The most important thing is consistent daily practice. If I’m finding something difficult to transcribe, I’ll come back to it the next day and try again, then the next day etc… and eventually my ears will figure out what’s happening.

  • These exercises are for all levels of students. Whether you have been playing for years or if you are just learning the major scales; there is no better time to get started with transcription than now!

  • Set smaller milestones if you need, for example if you are new to transcription, just take the first 4 bars of the solo, transcribe the notes and play along with the record to perfectly imitate and emulate the phrasing:

  • The next milestone could be the 1st chorus. Again transcribe the notes and then play along with the recording.

  • The next milestone could be the whole solo.

  • It’s very important to play along with the record and emulate all nuances of the performance such as the feel, the articulation, the accents, and other dynamics.

  • Remember that transcription is a process than we improve at gradually.

  • Dedicate a part of your daily practice routine to transcription and in the space of a year you will see huge improvements in your musicianship.

Enjoy these exercises and we are on hand to give additional guidance and insight if needed.

Cheers!

Thanks Hayden for excellent points, just wanted to add:

  • Don’t get frustrated is you don’t get all the missing parts, believe me, we all have been there!
  • Try to get as much as you can, even guessing is fine in the beginning. Remember, the transcription is going to be posted in it’s entirety soon, so you can check how much you got right!
  • When learning to play the solo, start with a very slow tempo by using metronome, and gradually work towards the record tempo. Like Hayden mentioned earlier, you can take only small parts/phrases at first to work on.

Keep up the good work,

-Tuomo

This thread is really challenging yet really fun! I have learned the firsthand how important it is to transcript in order to enrich our vocabulary. I will try to actively participate in this thread! Thank you for this!

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@jacobs thank you! Let me know if you have any questions/ need of guidance.

We’re working on the next pianist as well, in couple of weeks there will be thread on the great Wynton Kelly!

-Tuomo

Full Transcription & Selected Analysis No. 1

Autumn Leaves (Take 1) - (Album: Portrait In Jazz 1960 )

Here is the full transcription of the first 2 choruses of the piano solo starting at 2m00s.

Autumn Leaves Complete Transcription.pdf (65.2 KB)

And here a selected analysis:

AL Analysis.pdf (197.8 KB)

If you have questions, comments or ideas, please write them to the thread,

Enjoy!

-Tuomo

1 Like

I started late and just finished 16 bars of transcription. will make sure to finish all of it and give some feedback here before the next thread comes out. Thanks Tuomo!

@jacobs, that’s great!

Let me know if I can help in any way.

-Tuomo