For 25 years, Bruce Spiegel’s work as an editor and producer at CBS mostly consisted of “48 Hours” episodes with titles such as “Perilous Journey,” “Fateful Connection” and “A Daughter, A Mortgage and Two Murders.”
Occasionally, Spiegel worked on projects that meant something to him on a personal level. They include “9/11,” a 2002 documentary that won Emmy and Peabody awards, and 2012’s “Nelson Mandela: Father of a Nation,” featuring jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.
Spiegel’s non-CBS project, “Bill Evans, Time Remembered,” is another of labor of love.
A documentary about jazz pianist Evans, the film is showing at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Manship Theatre. Admission is free.
Evans joined the Miles Davis Sextet in 1958. He became a key player in Davis’ classic 1959 album, “Kind of Blue.” Evans later formed the influential Bill Evans Trio. The New Jersey-based Spiegel is bringing his Evans documentary to Louisiana for good reason.
Evans is a 1950 graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. He’s buried at Roselawn Memorial Park in Baton Rouge, as is his older brother Harry, a musician and music educator who settled in Baton Rouge.
Besides Sunday’s Baton Rouge screening of “Bill Evans, Time Remembered,” Spiegel showed the film Wednesday at Southeastern. He’s also screening it Friday in New Orleans at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center.
Evans considered his years at Southeastern among the happiest of his life, Spiegel said earlier this week in Hammond.
“It was important to show the film (at Southeastern) because the school meant a lot to Bill Evans,” Spiegel said. “I thought, if nothing else happens with this film, I’ll be able to look up and say, ‘I showed the film at his school.’ I feel good about that.”
After reading Peter Pettinger’s Evans biography, “Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings,” Spiegel wanted to know more about the pianist and composer.
“It’s a really good book,” he said. “The writer did his homework. But at the end of the book, I didn’t feel like I knew Bill Evans.”
Spiegel started his Evans documentary in 2007.
“I’d did a lot of murder shows for ‘48 Hours’ because that’s what we do,” Spiegel said. “But when you work on murder all the time, it’s a downer. You need something to keep your soul alive. The Bill Evans thing kept me going. It’s a project I wanted to do something special with.”
Spiegel sought interviews with everyone he could find who’d worked with or known Evans.
“It became a compulsion,” the filmmaker said. “I couldn’t stop until I’d gotten everybody who would talk to me.”
Interviewees include prize catch Tony Bennett. Evans and Bennett recorded two albums together in the 1970s.
In the film, Bennett recalls, Evans phoned him shortly before his death.
“He said, ‘Just go with truth and beauty and forget the rest.’ And ever since then, that’s been the premise of my life,” Bennett says.