COMPOSERS: Gil Evans
ALBUM TITLE: Ryan Truesdell Centennial
PERFORMER: Ryan Truesdell (conductor), Lewis Nash (drums), Donny McCaslin, Steve Wilson (sax), Frank Kimbrough (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: AS 0114
The composer/arranger Gil Evans, who died in 1988, is closely identified with Miles Davis, his creative partner in the 1950s. But this architect of modern jazz had a huge influence on jazz music before and after the landmark Birth of the Cool. So imagine the excitement producer Ryan Truesdell must have felt when he discovered a hoard of previously unknown manuscripts in the Evans family archive. With Centennial, a fan-funded project through ArtistShare, he has brought Evans’s music to vivid life.
Evans’s work was special because he used deft, subtle voicings to create wondrous orchestral textures that were new to jazz, magnified by the use of instruments like the bassoon and French horn. And these interpretations of these lost charts, sometimes helped by ‘how-to’ notes from Evans to players, is moody, moving and magnificent. In jazz heaven the man, known anagrammatically as ‘Svengali’, is surely smiling.