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Bebop Spoken There

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13,530 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 948 of them this year alone and, so far, 112 this month (July 31).

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

CD Review: Centennial - Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans.

(Review by David Brownlow).
An American arranger called Ryan Truesdell (no, I hadn’t heard of him either) has assembled a stellar group of musicians and soloists to perform and record ten previously unheard works of Gil Evans on the one hundredth anniversary of his birth. The pieces have been recently discovered among the manuscripts kept by Gil’s family – wife Anita and sons Miles and Noah – and used with their permission.
There are pieces drawn from three areas of Gil’s career i.e. “The Thornhill Years” “The Individualism of” and the “Vocalists”.
Thornhill: Maids of Cadiz; How About You; Who’ll Buy My Violets; Dancing on a Great Big Rainbow.
Individualism: Punjab; Barbara Song; Waltz/Variation on the misery; So Long. 
Vocalists: Smoking my Sad Cigarette; Beg Your Pardon; Look to the Rainbow.

The “Thornhill” pieces are shorter and have a delightful mid - 1940s feel including some “Danny Polo”-ish clarinet from Scott Robinson and early “Red Rodney”- ish brassy trumpet from Greg Gisbert. All exhibit Gil’s typically ingenious orchestrations with rich textures and adventurous, unexpected voicings of instruments.
The three “Individualism” items are longer explorations of Gil’s which point the way towards his later work including extended solo sections. There are “David Sanborn/Chris Hunter” style alto solos from Steve Weston, some exceptional free-flowing vibes work from Joe Locke (standout soloist for me ) and some pithy choruses from Donny McCaslin on tenor.
A version of“Punjab” was recorded in 1964 but never released. Ryan Truesdell added tabla accompaniment to the arrangement and it now flows sympathetically. In “Barbara Song”, Gil used a section which emerged later in his career as “Copenhagen Sight” and “London”. Gil often returned to arrangements - sometimes years later- to review or revise them. “Waltz/Variation” spans 500 bars making it the longest work of Gil’s. The main theme is “The Time of the Barracudas” in which he developed and added to by extending sections and adding new melodic content. Truesdell considers it to be Gil’s “magnum opus” as it exemplifies his extraordinary abilities as a composer. One can only agree !
The three “vocal” pieces are :-
“Smoking my sad cigarette” sung by Kate McGarry
“Beg Your Pardon” sung by Wendy Gillies
“Look to the Rainbow” sung by Luciana Souza
Each of these songs showcase Gil’s unique skills in a different way. The only criticism I have is that at times, the backdrops are a little too busy - detracting slightly from the vocals.
In conclusion, this CD is a respectful tribute to Gil from Ryan Truesdell, the Evans family and ourselves, the jazz-loving public.
David Brownlow.

1 comment :

Ann Braithwaite said...

Thanks much for posting David Brownlow's review of Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Centennial CD.
I most appreciate it.
All the best,
Ann Braithwaite

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