Bill Evans somehow learned to distill beauty from the air and make it pure. His crystalline, impressionistic touch on the piano produced ballads to dive into deeply. Though he could be a mainstream, swinging jazz pianist, his faster pieces could also be less accessible, jagged and angular. Evans was an in-demand sideman in the late 1950s and was one of the main creative catalysts behind Miles Davis' Kind of Blue album. He preferred to work with his own trio (his piano/bass/drums recordings are among the most influential in modern jazz), but he also recorded stellar albums with Jim Hall, Stan Getz, and Tony Bennett. On his own, he multi-tracked Conversations with Myself, yet another milestone. Despite his scholarly image, Evans was plagued with drug addiction for the majority of his adult life. He passed away, much too soon, in 1980.