We’ll never know if it was the darkness of the man or the art of darkness that makes Bill Evans the illuminating presence that shines then and now. Casting a warm light on pianists young and old; on his peers who have long outlived him and on the music he helped to define. I’m not sure if writer, producer, director Bruce Spiegel uncovers anything new to add to that debate but I can tell you he brings the solitary sadness and delicate exuberance of Evan’s music to the fore, and for that alone, in these days of intense noise, we each owe him a debt of gratitude.
Like the man himself, Time Remembered is a thing of fragile beauty. Bedeviled by addictions, Evans was a highly functional junkie until one day, at the age of 51, he wasn’t. To his credit, Spiegel does not airbrush. His interviews with Tony Bennett (’75’s The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album remains a watermark for both artists); drummer Paul Motian, who along with doomed, rule-breaking bassist Scott LaFaro (who died at 25) accompanied Evans on such stone piano trio classics as Portrait In Jazz, Explorations, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, and Waltz For Debbie. A host of others, including vocalist Jon Hendricks and drummer Jack DeJohnette, pull no punches. The archival footage of Evans in performance, solo, with the trio, with Miles,holds the film together as it should, for it was music that held Evans together.