Interview: Laurie Verchomin (Pt. 5) - JazzWax

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August 21, 2009


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Doug Zielke

Admiring the music of Bill Evans as much as I do, I have to say, I'm glad this is over.

Ed Leimbacher

I second that emotion. Some stories might better be taken to the grave.


I disagree. I found the interview fascinating. Much more interesting than reading about his music. I mean what can you say about that which can't be better understood by just listening and studying?

But Laurie has a perspective which no other writer has. His music is out there for all of us, but I do want to know more about Bill as a person. And, as with any honest life story, not all of that will be positive.

Don Tyler

Fascinating interview, Marc. I always wonder how Evans would have developed with this final trio had he lived. He was certainly mind boggling at the end. Of course, he was a train wreck waiting to happen. Bird, Trane, and Bill...all too quickly.

Tom Marcello

I saw/heard Bill Evans at what must have been his last performance at Fat Tuesdays. Coming into the club, he was practically held up by a person on each side. He looked very bad and his condition shocked me.

He sat down next to me at the bar and gave a brief interview with a foreign journalist, though. I remember him saying something like "Just don't ask me any questions about Miles Davis" or something like that to the interviewer with a smile on his face.

He played wonderful, though. I remember that Michel Legrand was in the audience, and that Bill introduced him from the stage.

Afterwards, I spoke to Joe LaBarbera who is a old friend ( that's my photo of Joe in your article) and told himit was wonderful and I'd be back the next night.

The next day I was shocked to lean he passed, even though the condition I saw him in was rough. I was shocked because he played like there was no tomorrow!


Well, I am interested in the details of his drug use, unsavory as it is, and I hope Laurie goes into it more in her book. I just don't understand the amount of coke that she claims he was using. Booting up eight grams a day would seem to require at least sixteen injections a day. And the level of toxicity would build up with each additional shot. It is hard for to understand how a sick 50 year old man would be able to tolerate that for more than a few days, or would even want to do that. Or how he would be able to maintain his poise and sensitivity instead of turning into a raving psychotic. Most coke and speed users I know seem to want to crash after a few days, take some heavy tranquilizers, sleep and eat, before getting back on their run.

I'm also wondering if he ever gave any consideration to returning to heroin. Opiates as long as the dose and delivery is pure are much, much easier on the system. I recall someone -- I think Rollins or maybe Max Roach -- saying that what really killed Charlie Parker was not the heroin, but the alcohol, and if he had laid on the junk more in place of the alcohol, he would have lasted longer.


It's been fascinating and disturbing to read Laurie's account. It doesn't sound like anyone was going to dissuade Bill Evans from using drugs, but at some level there were a lot of people around him-starting with his manager, his trio-mates, Laurie herself-who were enablers. Ultimately, it was Evans who bore the responsibility for his own actions.

Win Hinkle

You have done a great job with a very difficult challenge. You must evaluate the music with a consensus of values yet balance that with the constant human pressures that force the probe into why and how Bill self-destructed. In the broadest sense we are all on some road to destruction, deterioration of the mind and body towards death. If we look down the road, as I think Bill did, it's not the end but just another hotel at the end of a long tour that must be checked in to. That tour can be as productive and filled with beauty as we want it to be, regardless of what we each need to cope with the pressures that hamper it. Perception is Everything. Bravo to you and Laurie for sharing with us.


Great interview which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I always wondered whether Bill had a meditative philosophy, and to read that he studied Jung and Eastern Ideology is like completing a jigsaw. Regarding him never sleeping, that's insane. Laurie was very wise when she said that creativity goes hand-in-hand with self destruction. By making art we are in a way destroying, or overcoming, our mortal selves - and vice versa.

Thanks for posting!

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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