Bill Evans: Sartorially Sound


With the Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival only a few days away, Bristol’s local tailor waxes lyrical with composer/conductor and friend William Goodchild about his involvement in the Interplay Series; placing the work jazz pianist Bill Evans next to orchestral pieces performed by the Bristol Ensemble – the Bristol’ professional chamber orchestra – and conducted by Mr Goodchild himself.

A longstanding fixture of the Bristolian music calendar, I am excited to be able to partake of festival for the first time this year – other distractions like raising young families, starting a tailoring business and generally being BLT have sought to pervert the pursuit of exquisite music to date.

One of the most endearing anecdotes I’ve learned about Evans thus far, is that he was the only white man ever to join Miles Davis jazz band – albeit he was widely regarded as one of the worlds greatest jazz pianists, I’m not sure that higher praise is necessary as surely Miles’ own stamp of approval is accolade enough?

And, whilst I am new to Bill Evans the musician, though not his music, given his own sartorial style it comes as no surprise to learn that he was inspired by the French impressionist composers next to whose work Evans music is placed for the Interplay Series at Colston Hall.

Evans’ appearance, and indeed, his demeanour, bear an uncanny resemblance to George McFly from Back to the Future. But his style is reminiscent of 1960’s film The French Connection, ironically. With horn rim glasses, white shirt, black tie and black suits, his look was certainly of the time – albeit the black suit and tie are now synonymous with 1990’s film classic, Reservoir Dogs – also a fantastic source of sartorial inspiration. 

And, Evans wore it, like so many of the other jazz greats, like Sunday best, but in a relaxed and debonair fashion. And it is this, I think, that makes him all the more appealing. In the words of Hardy Amies: “A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.”

Given the era of the music (1960’s – one of my personal favourites), I’m hoping for some seriously cool suits and ‘ensembles’ at The Colston Hall, on the day! I myself am already looking forward to stepping back in time, as if excuse were needed, for the occasion and will be rekindling my love affair with all things beatnik and ‘jazz..’.

See you there..

Brown in Town