I’ve heard this gorgeous piece of music by Bill Evans a number of times over the years but perhaps at no other time when we need to hear its message more than at the present. It has been a week of hate in America coming on the heels of the January 6 events in DC. I can’t take watching the news anymore and push the button on my iPhone to stream my favorite station, KCSM, the Bay Area jazz station. It is the Morning Show with Alicia Clancy and she plays “Peace Piece.”
The composition was recorded by Evans in December 1958 for his album Everybody Digs Bill Evans. It is a pastoral improvisation recorded by Evans at the end of the recording session built on a gentle Cmaj7 to G9sus4 two chord progression. The same progression featured in the opening to “Flamenco Sketches” which he recorded with Miles Davis a year later on the legendary Kind of Blue album.
Although peaceful and reflective, it features a lot of discordant notes in the latter half. The composition has a free form melody and timeless, meditational quality. Evans evokes the feeling of being alone. It is one of his most famous recordings and over the years Evans had many requests to play it live but he refused because he believed that the composition would lose its value and meaning as it had been an inspiration at the moment only. He only ever played it once live with the Bill Evans Dance Company in Seattle in 1978 to accompany an abstract and lyrical modern dance put on by the dancers.