Maurice Ravel, aside from his tremendous output as a composer of instrumental and vocal music, was one of the 20th century's great orchestrators. His understanding of instrumental colour is highly distinctive and he was in great demand to arrange music by many of his contemporaries from compatriot Claude Debussy to Russian titan Modest Mussorgsky.
Kate Williams names Bill Evans and Maurice Ravel as two of her major influences as both a composer and a performer. Her own Untitled Peace Piece is a tribute to Evans, the left hand part having echoes of his Peace Piece.
Bill Evans Quotes
"It bugs me when people try to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. It's not. It's feeling."
"I think it's (jazz) more of a revival, in a different form, of what went on in classical music before. In other words, in the 17th century there was a great deal of improvisation in classical music."
"I feel that jazz is not so much a style as a process of making music."
"Jazz is more of a certain creative process of spontaneity than a style."
"The art of music is the art of speaking with this spontaneous quality."
Recorded in December 1958, Peace Piece is an unrehearsed modal composition that Bill Evans recorded for his Everybody Digs Bill Evans LP. It is hailed as one of the most beautiful and evocative solo piano improvisations ever recorded. The song has been used for soundtracks of motion pictures, as music for ballet choreography and inspired poets. The piece starts out spare and melodic and is also a modal tone poem equal to anything Erik Satie composed. This modest and ultimately quiet Peace Piece, is a timeless, meditational, reverent, pastoral improvisation that is more a mood than a composition.
Jacques Réda, a French poet and jazz critic, wrote 5 poems with the title "Tombeau de Bill Evans,” perhaps with reference to "Tombeau de Couperin" by Maurice Ravel. One of those poems was inspired by the Bill Evans’ Peace Piece.
Peace Piece by Jacques Réda
As the long golden rays of the evening that leave
The world a little wider and purer after them.
Under the ecstatic whistle of a thrush , I can
Go now without haste, without sadness:
Everything becomes transparent. Even the heavy day
lightens and in some places make sparkle a tear
Happy between the eyelashes of the night that moves.
Neither dream nor sleep. More waiting. Peace.