Jazz and Far Beyond

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InterviewsNo. 289

Interview #244 ローリー・ヴァホーミン

interviewed by Kenny Inaoka via Google Document, April 2022

JazzTokyo: To be honest, I am a little bit surprised to have received your proposal for the interview from us since you had already talked much about Bill (Evans)  through the various media, including the documentary Time Remembered, the interview by Marc Myers and your book.
What drive you to keep talking about Bill?  

Laurie Verchomin: What drives me to meditate each day or for that matter to brush my teeth. They say you can only become a master by repeating something 10,000 times, well I’ve certainly brushed my teeth more than 10,000 times and I’m still terrible at it, but I keep trying. Talking to Bill every day or talking about Bill every day keeps me in touch with a very important source in my life. You could call it the Universal Mind. My experiences with Bill put me in touch with the absolute realm. The place where Nothing truly matters. But within the context of a brutal and cruel relative world, where all that really mattered was staying inside the music. There was never a moment when I was not aware of the precarious nature of life, hence the subtitle of my book Life & Death with Bill Evans. It was my sincere intention to invite the reader to examine their own thoughts, feelings and belief systems from the place of the witness, the one who watches.

JT: Just today, I received two new CD sets of Bill on Resonance, Morning Glory by the trio including Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell recorded in Buenos Aires in 1973, and Inner Spirit by another trio including Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera recorded also in Buenos Aires in 1979. Have you listened to any of them?

Laurie: No. I haven’t seen or heard them yet. I wish I could comment on them.

JT: The latter one was recorded one year before his death. They feel something special from their performance which is why they put the album title of Inner Spirit and not from one of the recorded song titles, I think.

Laurie: No comment.

JT: On that album they play Laurie next to the opener Stella by Starlight and Letter to Evan to close the 1st set. Laurie and Evan, very close two to him. How did you feel when you received the music sheet titled Laurie?

Laurie: The song is integral to my being now. I have been listening to it for over 40 years now. Each year there are fantastic versions by musicians all over the world. They love to play it for me and this is a great honor which Bill bestowed upon me.

JT: Those albums are Bill’s 6th and 7th releases on Resonance. What do you think about  those multiple releases after his death, official ones with consents by his Estate?

Laurie: I think Resonance has done a great job of repackaging Bill’s career posthumously. I’m sure Bill knew his influence was assured and he would have an extensive after life. But most of these recordings are not actually new releases and therefore not of interest to me. I am interested in supporting his legacy, which is why I wrote the book and why I continue to network and provide support to those who are creating fresh new works that are directly inspired by the enormous body of Bill’s work.

JT: They say Bill’s trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, and the last one with Marc and Joe were two best. Do you agree with this?

Laurie:  I’m partial to the trio with Marc and Joe, but lately I’ve been listening to the trio with Eddie and Marty. Of course, I have listened to Sunday at the Village Vanguard over 1,000 times. I love Scotty’s composition “Jade Dreams”.

JT: My first experience of Bill’s trio was the Portrait in Jazz (Riverside, 1960), followed by those performed by same trio. They allow us free imagination and those albums are my favorites among many of Bill’s trio. I am more than happy I could work with one of them, Paul Motian, several times, later in ‘80s. Though I could not have any occasion to talk about Bill with Paul, but I enjoyed his talks about him in the documentary (Time Remembered). You said your favorite is Symbiosis (1974). Could you tell us why?

Laurie: I love the huge arc of consciousness that runs through Symbiosis. A fantastic meditation.

JT: My live experiences with Bill is twice, the 1st one was in 1973 which was recorded to release as Live in Tokyo (CBS-SONY). I love this one too with Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell. Two of friends of mine are involved in the production, one is Kiyoshi Itoh as the director who supported Helen Keane as the producer, the other is Tadayuki Naitoh, a photographer who took its cover picture. I am surprised at his challenging treatment of color for the background, in scarlet. Do you know this album, Live in Tokyo? Did he talk to you about Tokyo or Japan?

Laurie: Bill gave me a copy of the Tokyo Concerts. He had copies of his most albums stacked in his book case that lived behind his piano. These were the seeds of my jazz collection.

Bill felt very privileged to perform in Japan. He found the audience to be deeply respectful. We were looking forward to the tour to Japan that September in 1980. Bill loved the esthetics of the Japanese culture and gave me a collection of 3 woodblock prints by Hiroshige. One is the famous bridge in the rain. I always think of it as the Liminal Bridge. The way to cross over.

JT: 2nd time was in 1976 when he came back with Eddie and Edmund Jigmund. We accepted their offer of making Eddie’s 1st solo album delivered by Helen and set up the recording session with Edmund and Japanese pianist Takehiro Honda in the midnight after the concert. It came out as the Down Stretch but none of us are fully satisfied with the result since it was done under the difficult circumstances.
I worked with Edmund again when he came back with Richie Beirach, one of close pianist friends of Bill, who contributed an interesting essay about Bill in Morning Glory album.
How do you enjoy comments on Bill by musicians who have ever played with him, for example in the documentary?

Laurie: I recently enjoyed a fantastic interview with Marc Johnson by Pablo Held. He has become a truly wise and very funny man. I love all Joe LaBarbara’s interviews because he is so humble and sensitive. Joe and Marc and I were Bill’s family during those last 18 months. They are like brothers to me. We share a very special bond. I met Paul Motian at the Vanguard with Bill, and he is a supremely groovy cat! I loved him in the Bill documentary.

JT: You established the association called Bill Evans Legacy Organization. What do you try to do with this organization?

Laurie: The Bill Evans Legacy Organization is a network of musicians and listeners who are devoted to preserving and promoting Bill’s work. Bill’s piano and archives have been in storage (by the Evans Estate – Evan Evans) for over 10 years now. It is my sincere wish to find an institution which will host a permanent collection of his musical works and beloved Chickering piano. I would also like to see a Worldwide Festival of Bill’s music. These are my dreams. In the meantime it is very rewarding being a part of Bill’s larger global family, with my book and other creative projects.

JT: By the way, I am pretty interested in your family name. How do you pronounce your last name?

Laurie: Ver Haah Min

JT: Could you tell us your family background?

Laurie: My paternal grandparents are originally from Ukraine

JT: Do you think it may be possible Bill felt something about you close to his mother coming from the eastern part of Russia, in addition to female appeals?

Laurie: Bill and I shared the love of the Greek Orthodox Ukrainian church music.

JT: Have you ever talked with Bill about origins of mutual families?

Laurie: Bill described his family life, growing up in New Jersey. His parents were mentioned but not in the context of their Ukrainian roots. He was very fond of his mother Mary. She later became an avid painter and he had a few of her paintings.
Bill’s mother’s maiden name is Soroka, which translates to Magpie, a kind of bird. Bill’s father was Welsh.

JT: How do you think about Russia’s military behaviors against Ukraine which reminds us of its attack against Afghanistan though it might not be by Russia by Putin himself?

Laurie: No comment.

JT: Bill has ever declined the invitation from Russia due to the reason it attacked Afghanistan (1979). Did you talk about this with Bill? Was he sensitive to political issues?

Laurie: No comment.

JT: How about religion? Did he belong to any religious group or the church?

Laurie: Bill’s beliefs were so wide, he held universal concepts that didn’t involve religion.

JT: As long as I know from your book, you had kept yourself pretty cool even when you guys were told by the doctor Bill was fatal. Are you religious person?

Laurie: No, but I have been a student of Oscar Ichazo for 25 years (Arica). Much of my book was written under his influence. I practise meditation, yoga and tai chi and recently have added playing music to my spiritual agenda.

JT: You mention Bill must have felt relieved since he was got free from sort of tortures. This way of thinking may come from religion where suffering people could be brought up to a higher place.

Laurie: Death as Ascension is definitely one of the themes of my book. I look forward to death as I know I will be reunited with Bill.

JT: Are you oriented to become a novelist since I think your book could be a sophisticated love story but not just a non-fiction?

Laurie: My writing is mostly prose. I enjoy writing with my group (13 years now), everyone is so inspiring to me. I enjoy this diamond mind approach to discovery of new ideas.

JT: To me it sounds like a song with a most influential theme, the death of Bill which the book started with comes back again to close the story. Between themes many motives go back and forth….

Laurie: Yes, it is a song with coda and refrain.

JT: You may have never forgot love by Bill but have got a new partner. How could it work?

Laurie: My present partner and I have been in a relationship for 15 years.  He keeps a very low profile and has been a great supporter of all things Bill.

JT: Do you have children?

Laurie: I have 2 sons, Niko and Evan, with my first husband John Ramsay, whom I met on Bill’s birthday August 16th, 1981 while he was touring with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and my love child at 40, a daughter Tara who is turning 25 this summer which makes me 65 years old now. My son Niko is finishing up his music degree at Berklee University in Boston. Evan is an artist and a film maker and Tara is a painter.

JT: Do they know about your relationship with Bill?

Laurie: They are all equally influenced by Bill.

JT: Finally, please tell us your dream.

Laurie: The evolution of Humanity One.

JT: Thank you, Laurie.





ローリー・ヴァホーミン:毎日瞑想するのも、歯を磨くのも、私を駆り立てるもの。何事も1万回繰り返して初めて達人になれると言いますが、私は確かに1万回以上歯を磨きましたが、まだ下手くそです、でもやり続けています。毎日ビルに話しかけ、ビルについて話すことで、私の人生にとってとても大切な源泉に触れることができるのです。ユニバーサル・マインドとでもいうのでしょうか。ビルとのさまざまな体験は、私を絶対的な領域へと導いてくれました。本当に重要なことは無の境地なのですが。しかし、残酷で残忍な相対的世界の中で、音楽の中にいることだけが本当に重要なことだったのです。私の著書『The Big Love~Life & Death with Bill Evans』(邦題:『ビル・エヴァンスと過ごした最期の18ヶ月』)のサブタイトルにもなっているように、私は人生の不安定さを意識しない瞬間はありませんでした。私は、読者が自分自身の考え、感情、信念体系を、目撃者、見守る者の立場から検証するよう、心から呼びかけようと意図しました。



JT:後者は、彼が亡くなる1年前に録音されたものです。彼らはその演奏から何か特別なものを感じたからこそ、アルバム・タイトルを曲名ではなく『Inner Spirit』にしたと思います。



JT:そのアルバムでは、オープニングの<Stella by Starlight>の次に<Laurie>を、1stセットの最後に<Letter to Evan>を演奏しています。ローリーとエヴァン(ビルの息子)、彼にとってとても身近な2人ですね。<ローリー>というタイトルの譜面を受け取ったとき、どのようなお気持ちでしたか?


JT: これらのアルバムは、ビルにとって6枚目と7枚目のレゾナンスからのリリースです。彼の死後、彼の遺族の同意を得て正式にリリースされた複数の作品について、どう思われますか?



ローリー:マークとジョーとのトリオが好きなんだけど、最近はエディ(ゴメス)とマーティ(モレル)とのトリオを聴いています。もちろん、『サンディ・アット・ヴィレッジ・ヴァンガード』は 1000回以上聞きましたよ。スコッティが書いた <Jade Dreams> が好みですね。

JT:僕が初めてビルのトリオを聴いたのは『ポートレート・イン・ジャズ』(Riverside 1960)ですが、その後、同じトリオで演奏された作品を聴きました。彼らの演奏は僕らに自由にイマジネーションを遊ばせてくれ、このトリオのアルバムはビルの数あるアルバムの中でもとくに気に入っています。その中のひとり、ポール・モチアンとは80年代後半に何度か仕事の場を共有するをすることができ、とても嬉しく思っています。ポールとはビルの話をする機会はなかったのですが、ドキュメンタリー映画(『Time Remembered』)の中で彼が語るビルはとても面白かったです。あなたがいちばん好きな作品は『Symbiosis』(1974年)だとおっしゃっていましたね。その理由を教えてください。


JT:僕のビルのライブの経験は2度あります。1度目は1973年のアルバム『ライブ・イン・トーキョー』(CBS-SONY)としてリリースされたときのものです。エディ・ゴメスとマーティ・モレルが共演したこのアルバムも好きですね。僕の友人ふたりがこのアルバムの制作に関わっていますが、ひとりはプロデューサーのヘレン・キーンをサポートしたディレクターの伊藤潔と、もうひとりはジャケット写真を撮影したカメラマンの内藤忠行さんです。バックに緋色を使った彼の大胆な処理に驚きました。このアルバム『Live in Tokyo』はご存知ですか?ビルは東京や日本について語ったのでしょうか?

ローリー:アルバム『Tokyo Concerts』(『Live in Tokyo』のアメリカ版タイトル)はビルからもらいました。彼はピアノの後ろに置いてある本棚に、ほとんどの自分のアルバムを積み重ねて置いていました。これが私のジャズ・コレクションの種になったのです。



エドマンドが、ビルと親しいピアニストのリッチー・バイラークと来日した際にも仕事の場を共有をしていますが、リッチーはアルバム『Morning Glory』にビルについての興味深いエッセイを寄稿しています。



















JT: あなたの本から知る限り、ビルが致命的だと医者から言われたときでも、あなたはとても冷静でしたね。あなたは宗教心の厚い方ですか?


註)オスカー・イチャーソ (1931–2020) はボリビアの哲学者、統合哲学の創始者。 1968年、実践のための学校、アリカスクールを設立。




ローリー :私の文章は、ほとんど散文です。私のグループ(もう13年になる)と一緒に書くのが好きで、みんなからとても刺激を受けています。新しいアイデアを発見するために、このダイヤモンド・マインドのアプローチを楽しんでいます。




ローリー:現在のパートナーとは15年来の付き合いです。 彼はとても控えめな人間で、ビルのことなら何でもサポートしてくれています。









稲岡邦彌 Kenny Inaoka 兵庫県伊丹市生まれ。1967年早大政経卒。2004年創刊以来Jazz Tokyo編集長。音楽プロデューサーとして「Nadja 21」レーベル主宰。著書に『新版 ECMの真実』(カンパニー社)、編著に『増補改訂版 ECM catalog』(東京キララ社)『及川公生のサウンド・レシピ』(ユニコム)、共著に『ジャズCDの名盤』(文春新書)。2021年度「日本ジャズ音楽協会」会長賞受賞。


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