To quote myself: "Quite articulate about his music, i.n a 1964 interview Evans said this: 'The only way I can work is to have some kind of restraint involved, the challenge of a certain kind craft or form and then to find the freedom in that.... I think that a lot of guys ... want to circumvent that kind of labor.' Then there is this Evans statement: 'I believe that all music is romantic, but if it gets schmaltzy, romanticism is disturbing. On the other hand, romanticism handled with discipline is the most beautiful kind of beauty.'
"Plusible words perhaps, but the value that Evans seemingly places on restraint in itself leads one to ask what is being restrained and why? Evans' "challenge of [working within] a certain kind craft or form" Is not merely an account of his own necessary practice; it lends to that practice an air of moral virtue ("I think that a lot of guys ... want to circumvent that kind of labor.') In other words, for Evans certain kinds of musical labor are not only valid but they also validate. And should an aesthetically valid outcome be reached in a seemingly non-laborious manner, that can be disturbing. Thus in 1964, after acknowledging the brilliance.ant, ludic, and completely unpremeditated two-piano improvisation that he and Paul Bley contributed to George Riussell's 1960 album "Jazz in the Space Age.," was "filled to do," Evans says, "[But to do] something that hadn't been rehearsed successfully, just like that, almost shows the lack of challenge involved in that kind of freedom."
Geez, Louise -- you think it might show something else? Like maybe that certain "just like that" circumstances might lead to results and discoveries that the world of "challenges" and "restraints" (as Evans conceives the meaning of those terms) might not lead to? And why does the absence of successful rehearsals (I assume Evans meant that the Evans-Bley duo piano improvisation was not rehearsed at all rather than unsuccssfully rehearsed) equal a "lack of challenge"? Doesn't it merely modify the nature of the challenge, if you want to use that term? BTW, in that duo portion of "Jazz in the Space Age," does anyone have the sense that Evans and Bley are "merely "tossing off" what they play rather than paying very close attention to what they're doing/what's happening?
Also, "romanticism handled with discipline is the most beautiful kind of beauty." What the heck does Evans think romanticism is? It was an epoch of sensibility that fueled much creativity in all the arts for a good portion of the 19th Century and has had an even longer life, especially in music, in terms of audience appeal. That I think would be accurate. But I would guess that that is not quite what Evans means but rather something ike "music that can more or less melt you" -- say, Chopin or Rachmaninov, which is BTW not to denigrate the music of those composers in any way; Chopin is a giant, and Rachmaninov's popularity should not obscure the substance of his best work. In any case, while much Bach does melt many people, by no means does Bach's music fall under the umbrella of romanticism in the first and more accurate sense of the term I outlined above.