Today is a great two-part 1978 interview with composer and arranger Gil Evans by Les Tomkins from the JazzProfessional website. Here is an excerpt in which Gil talks about his early music involvement:
“Not till I started to high school. I was staying with these people who had a piano; I just started fooling around with the piano, and I realised that I liked to do it.
To start with, I had no background except popular music; that’s what I played then. Later on, I listened to other music, out of curiosity and a desire to know what was happening in my trade. Then I went into the French impressionists and the Russian impressionists; that’s where I started in classical music. I don’t have any background in earlier classical music, like so many people do. I picked up anything I know about Bach, or anything like that, much later—when I came to New York, as a matter of fact, thirty years ago. I started playing Bach, and I realised at that time how people can devote their life to Bach. It’s a fantastic adventure, really, and if it suits your life style, I could see how you could do it, you know; I really could.
And also Chopin. But Bach especially. I could understand completely how people specialize in him, as they do. It seems funny to an outsider—and I thought it was funny, too, until I started playing that music, and I realised how the whole thing can just put you in a trance.”