Directed by Bruce Spiegel Starring Connie Atkinson, Tony Bennett, Bill Charlap, Jack DeJohnette, Debby Evans, Eric Reed Documentary Film Review by Chris Olson
Full of jazz-like energy and frenetic enthusiasm, documentary film Bill Evans Time Remembered from filmmaker Bruce Spiegel, manages to capture the spirit of the genre whilst layering it with a deeper sense of pathos that you don't always find in musical biopics. The array of talking heads, archive footage, modern interviews, album covers and audio recordings of Bill Evans himself make this a compelling exploration of a fascinatingly talented jazz pianist and songwriter.
Best known for playing with Miles Davis, the musical career of Evans is one littered with phenomenal performances and amazing contributions to music. During the course of the documentary, we see a timeline of this, as well as the personal anecdotes that make his world seem more grounded, such as losing friends, meeting women, and drug abuse. The numerous people who offer insight into Bill's life do so from a variety of perspectives. Some are close connections to Evans himself or those who knew him, whilst others are jazz musicians themselves or aficionados of the genre.
Much like the man himself, Bill Evans Time Remembered has a deep devotion to the music first and foremost. Twinkling keys and rousing jazz pieces accompany the majority of scenes and many of the talking heads wax lyrical not only about Bill but also the era itself. You cannot help but immerse yourself into the joyous reflections, especially the emotive footage of solo piano performances which have a palpable tenderness to them. This balance between the energetic and the sombre is what makes Spiegel's film so affecting.
From a filmmaking perspective there is nothing revolutionary about this movie. All the techniques used have been seen in other musical documentaries and audiences can see a plethora of similar films on TV channels like Sky Arts and BBC4. That being said, if you are a jazz fan this is compulsory viewing! The insight and passion is remarkable, offering a tremendous experience for audiences looking to time travel into this bygone era of transformative music and transcendental culture. Some of the most iconic jazz songs and performances appear, but there is also a more fundamental connection between Bill Evans and how music defined him as a songwriter which is universally appealing.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for Bill Evans Time Remembered below...