From Welsh and Ukranian parents, Bill Evans is fondly remembered as one of America's greatest and most inspirational jazz pianists. He had piano lessons as a child and also learned to play violin, flute and piccolo, which were subsequently said to shape his distinctive piano style. Initially an accomplished classical pianist, Evans was converted to jazz after hearing Tommy Dorsey and Harry James on the radio when he was 12 and had his first practical experience playing with Buddy Valentino's rehearsal band, going on to play boogie woogie music for parties and weddings around New Jersey. He was still at college when he composed his first tune, Very Early, and formed a trio with guitarist Mundell Lowe and bassist Red Mitchell. After moving to New York, Evans went on to join the Herbie Field band who backed Billie Holiday and at the age of 23 - while serving in the US Army - he composed one of his classic tunes, Waltz For Debby, for his young niece. He also set the poetry of William Blake to music and worked with singer Lucy Reed and innovative composer George Russell. In 1958 he joined Miles Davis, striking up a strong partnership, influencing his classical direction and collaborating on Kind Of Blue, often considered the greatest jazz album of all time. Evans then went on to form his own trio, forging a productive partnership with Scott LaFaro, although progress was hampered by his ongoing drug and psychiatric problems and LaFaro's death in a car crash. His health gradually deteriorated and he died in 1980 at the age of 51.