The Bill for Rehearsal Time

Thanks to Jazz Video Guy on YT for finding this rare documentary footage of Bill Evans preparing for a TV taping in Denmark. There’s a lot to take away, but I’ll just zero in one aspect – this is a textbook example of how to rehearse. See here for my personal thoughts on this.

Of course, it helped that Eddie Gomez already knew Bill’s book backwards, so they only had to break in a local drummer. But what shines out for me is the professional efficiency and that, my friends, is the golden rule of rehearsal.

They used the camera rehearsal as an opportunity for an arrangement runthrough. Efficient. Tops, feels, number of choruses, tails, that’s it. As much explaining as reading and playing. Bang, four arrangements covered in under ten minutes – and a large chunk of that was taken up with just one passage. Efficient. And that was while the TV floor crew were working out angles and lighting anyway. Efficient.

(Incidentally, Bill obviously knew the routine for these shoots. The first thing they did was sort out the ability to cue each other in a less than optimal setup – rather than whining to the floor crew about moving everything around. And notice how he sits still at the piano for a couple of minutes while they sort out a few camera moves. In film terms, he’s being his own stand-in.)

Bill already had a running order in mind and Eddie brought the bass book along (in which the hits must have been marked, even though Eddie knew them). Prepared (and therefore efficient).


Noodle around, wander off for a cup of coffee, have a jam, “get the band vibe together”, “get the feel of the room”… Insofar as Bill spent any time getting the feel of the piano, he did it while rehearsing the drummer. Efficient.

And poor Alex Riel must have kicked himself because he didn’t make those outro hits in the end! I suspect Bill knew he wouldn’t, which is why he told him to relax (and Eddie cracked a joke). They were aware that the guy was coming in cold and under pressure.

Incidentally, in my experience when someone cocks something up during a soundcheck or rehearsal it’s best not to jump on them. They’ll know and they’ll jump on themselves to try to nail it in performance.

PS There’s also an interesting insight into the working craft. Notice the bit where Bill points out to Alex that Eddie always uses a specific figure taken from the head arrangement to signal the end of his last chorus. People have often marvelled at the almost psychic communication in Evans’ trios – well yeah, but why use a Ouija board when you can use a phone? It’s more… efficient?

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Posted in c) Musicianship, e) Rants & Ramblings
One comment on “The Bill for Rehearsal Time
  1. Adam Cole says:

    You gotta get up very early in the morning to outrehearse Bill Evans. Ar ar

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