My First Homage (1978)
for 2 pianos
My First Homage was written for a concert of music for two pianos that Dave Smith and I gave in New York in November 1978. It is a homage to the music of the great jazz pianist Bill Evans and more particularly to the trio that he led from 1959-1961 which had affected me deeply when I first began playing jazz seriously. In 1966, however, I gave up playing jazz after a long period during which improvised music had been my principal professional musical activity. Not only did I give up playing jazz but I developed, too, an almost pathological aversion to jazz and to other forms of improvised music.
Writing this piece represented not only a homage to music which had once been very important to me, but also served in part to exorcise my repudiation of jazz.
The title uses the same initials as those of a piece from the trio's last performance, recorded immediately before bassist Scott LaFaro's tragic death, called "My Foolish Heart", and quotes from it. I relished the harmonic approach of the Evans trio in every piece that they played, and also the rhythmic flexibility, both in Evans' own playing as well as that of Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, even at slow tempi. In addition I always found it touching that in the very last piece from this session, LaFaro's Jade Visions, the greatest bassist in the history of jazz dropped a beat in his own piece...