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Art Tatum
History of the Blues, Part 1 & 2 and Robert Johnson

Bill Evans

'playing Jazz is not an intellectual process. You use your intellect to take apart the materials and learn to understand them and learn to work with them. But actually it takes years and years of playing to develop the facility so that you can forget all of that.

Bill Evans Trio, at Ilkka Kuusisto's home, Lauttasaari, Helsinki, Finland, October 1970 (colorized) This Finish composer bought this home from the designer Tapio Wirkkala who designed there beautiful and famous glasswork.

Helsinki October 2021
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Finland's national broadcasting company, YLE, broadcasted this performance with Evans in, I think, last July(2007). I had never heard about it before. Bill and his trio played at Ilkka Kuusisto's house in Lauttasaari, Helsinki.

Ilkka Kuusisto is a Finnish composer, and his two sons are famous violinists. Ilkka played some jazz on his spare time. His son Pekka Kuusisto is the first Finnish violinist who has won the Sibelius violin contest. Pekka has also played with, for example, finnish jazz trio Trio Töykeät, with Iiro Rantala playing the piano. Iiro is one of Finland's greatest jazz pianists. And has a great sense of humour. His current trio has a guitar player and a beat box. Yes, a beat box! That's crazy, but somehow it works. Yes, I was in heaven when I happened toturn on my TV last summer. I couldn't believe that this video existed, or that Bill had even been to Finland!

Of course he travelled to Sweden many times, and that's obvious, because we [the Finnish people] always lose to Sweden in some way. May it be ice hockey or sense of fashion. The best thing about this video might be the fact how happy Bill seems to be. He's joking and smiling. With the performances, you can sense there's a bit of tension in the air, but when the last piece, Nardis, ends, people start to clap and Bill cannot help smiling. That's mega- awesome. Unfortunately there's few seconds missing in that YouTube clip, but you get the idea.

Before the 1970 footage, YLE showed a new Ilkka Kuusisto interview, where Ilkka told about Evans' trio coming to visit his house. The grand piano was brand new, and Evans liked it. Bill gave Ilkka the At The Montreaux Jazz Festival vinyl [album] as a present. Ilkka also told that he liked Bill's touch on the piano, and that Bill's playing was always on a high level. In the audience there's some Finnish jazz people, and I happen to know one of them! Jukka Haavisto is a vibrafonist, who's in his late 70's now, but still playing actively. He told me about a year ago that he had seen Bill 'live', and mentioned that Bill's head was always near the keys. That's what he remembered best. I just didn't know that he had seen Bill live here in Finland. I get to talk to Jukka soon, haven't seen him in a while. When I first met Jukka, we talked about jazz in general, and I told him that Bill is absolutely my favorite pianist. Being old and wise, he answered casually and said: "Well, isn't he everyone's favorite?" That was great!

-- From "Raine" in Helsinki, FinlandDecember 2008

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