Bill Evans has created an instrumental masterpiece and the only problem is that the title 'Bill Evans Plays Banjo,' is only half the story. Plenty of pickers play banjo, and play it well, but very few can compose with the range, depth, beauty and creativity of Evans. His 1996 album, 'Native & Fine,' was stunning for similar reasons. Evans manages to compose and play music that is readily embraced by traditionalists, but also appeals to progressive newgrass-types, a rare ability. But with 'Plays Banjo,' Evans has surpassed the extraordinary standard he set with that earlier disc, his writing now even more innovative, assured and original, and still, somehow, unmistakably bluegrass. His ability to pull from myriad musical sources for inspiration and distill elements of jazz, rock, classical, you-name-it down to their essential truths, and spin those truths into beguiling bluegrass compositions and riveting banjo solos places him in the ranks of the greats. It's no wonder that his elite sidemen and women likewise sound inspired to deliver their best, for who would want to be remembered as the weak link on an album certain to be viewed in the future as a classic. Bravo Bill! David Royko, The Chicago Tribune There may be more than one distinguished musician with the name Bill Evans, but it's not likely you'll confuse the one who plays banjo here with any other - not only because of his choice of instrument, but because 'Bill Evans Plays Banjo' is an album that simply couldn't be made by anyone else. A collection of elegantly spirited original tunes, it is also a celebration of friendships, family, experience - and one banjo - that belong to this Bill Evans alone. From the liner notes by Jon Weisberger It's not necessarily easy playing bluegrass banjo when you have the name Bill Evans. After all, there are several other well-known musicians who share this name, among them a legendary late jazz pianist, a jazz saxophonist, a bass player and a guitar player. This has resulted in some unusual situations: as when the banjo playing Bill Evans received an email from one of the other Bill Evanses demanding that he not perform or record using his name. Then there was the morning back in 1980 that his wife-to-be heard on the local radio station that Bill Evans had died (luckily for her, that was the Bill Evans who played piano). While spending most of his bluegrass career downplaying these confusions, this Virginia-born, California Bay Area banjo player embraces them on his second recording 'Bill Evans Plays Banjo.' A collection of twelve original instrumentals along with a remake of the early Bill Monroe bluegrass classic 'Heavy Traffic Ahead,' 'Bill Evans Plays Banjo' brings together some of the most outstanding acoustic musicians on the West Coast, along with a few choice Nashville-based modern bluegrass legends, to create a sound that is sophisticated and modern, yet reflects this artist's thorough grounding in the bluegrass traditions of Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs. Within the acoustic music world, this Bill Evans has enjoyed a career of over twenty-five years, known not only as a banjo player but also as a writer, teacher, producer, and scholar. A doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Berkeley, Bill currently performs as a solo artist and with singer Peter Rowan (Old and in the Way), fellow banjoist Tony Trischka, as well as San Francisco Bay Area bands the Bluegrass Intentions and Due West. He also tours nationally with his solo concert 'The Banjo in America,' presenting over 200 years of American banjo music on a variety of vintage reproduction instruments. His 1995 Rounder Records debut 'Native and Fine' earned an Honorable Mention for Acoustic Instrumental Recording of the Year from the Association for Independent Music. As a producer, Bill earned a 1998 nomination for Recorded Event of the Year from the International Bluegrass Music Association for his work on Suzanne Thomas' 'Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts.' He writes a monthly instructional column for Banjo Newsletter magazine and has written books and produced video projects for Mel Bay and AcuTab publications and Homespun Tapes. In addition, he has taught courses in ethnomusicology and American music history at San Francisco State University, the University of Virginia and Duke University. He is the senior At Large board member for the International Bluegrass Music Association, the professional trade association for bluegrass music.
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