Jazz Legends: Gil Evans
LABELS: BBC Jazz
PERFORMER: Gil Evans (p), Lew Soloff, Palle Mikkelborg, Miles Evans (t), Dave Bargeron, Dave Taylor (tb), John Clark (frhn), Steve Lacy (ss), Chris Hunter (as), Don Weller (ts), George Adams (ts, f), John Surman (bs, bc), Hiram Bullock (g), Delmar Brown (ky, vocals)
CATALOGUE NO: BBCJ 7007-2 ADD/DDD mono/stereo
Here’s a treat for fans of Svengali: two hours of live music featuring some of the late Gil Evans’s favourite soloists, plus an interview in which the great man discusses his influences and modus operandi. Evans was an important figure in the evolution of bebop in Forties New York. His contribution to the groundbreaking Birth of the Cool recording in 1949 was the start of a fruitful relationship with Miles Davis.
The orchestral works of Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain in the late Fifties are widely regarded as masterpieces. But Evans became more preoccupied with rock influences in the Seventies (especially the music of guitarist Jimi Hendrix) and he moved away from the tightly composed arrangements of his trumpet concertos for Miles Davis. The numbers on this double CD, recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1987, the year before he died aged 76, capture that freewheeling style.
The repertoire includes pieces by Mingus, Hendrix and Sting, and Evans’s characteristically unforceful direction allows the 17-piece big band to go with the flow. At times, the players appear to achieve spontaneous consensus after a period of musical debate, adding to the vitality of the work. Although perhaps not a good introduction to Evans’s ‘clouds of sound’ technique, this is unmissable for anyone with an interest in the oeuvre. Garry Booth