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Gil Evans and his Orchestra

C. Michael Bailey By

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Recorded Live at Palazzo del Congressi, Lugano, Italy, January 27, 1983.

It seems that every live performance has a hero who may or may not be the leader of the band. In the case of Gil Evans and his Orchestra, of the four recently released concert films from the early ‘80s, that hero is Howard Johnson. This statement is can be supported solely by Mr. Johnson’s performance on Monk’s cranky "Friday The 13th." He transforms the baritone saxophone into something altogether different from the standard reed fare. He does the same with the tuba on the other pieces performed. I suspect that the true leader of the concert, Mr. Evans himself, enabled Johnson’s performance as he did for Miles Davis 25 years previously.

Evans opts for an eclectic acoustic/electric mix for this concert employing the same rhythm section as Billy Cobham in his offering in this same DVD release series, Billy Cobham’s Glass Menagerie. That is, Billy Cobham on drums, Gil Goldstein on Keyboards and Tim Landers on electric bass. This foundation supports well the likes of the Brecker Brothers, Lew Soloff, Herb Geller, and the previously mentioned Mr. Johnson. The ensemble carries well the vision of Maestro Evans, who in his characteristic fashion, blows through Monk, Gershwin, Jimi Hendrix, and his own compositions with equal invention and aplomb.

In a way, these DVDs are period pieces, history lessons in how music was performed not so long ago, but long enough for many to forget. It is interesting that only the clothing dates the performances. The music here sounds as if it could have been conceived this year, this week, this day. That was always the power of Gil Evans...and those he surrounded himself with.

Visit Naxos and TDK Mediactive .

Hotel Me; Friday the 13th; Copenhagen Sights; Stone Free; Waltz; Variations on the Misery; Orange was the Color of her Dress, the Blue Silk; The Honey Man; Gone; Eleven. (Total Time: 60:00).

Gil Evans-Piano, Leader; Billy Cobham-Drums; Tim Landers-Bass; Dean Brown-Guitar; Gil Goldstein-Keyboards; John Clark-French Horn; Howard Johnson-Baritone Saxophone, Tuba; Michael Brecker, Thomas Grunwald-Tenor Saxophone; Herb Geller-Alto Saxophone; Tom Malone, Juggs Whigham, Hermann Breuer, Rudi Fuessers-Trombones; Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff, Benny Bailey, Ack Van Rooye-Trumpets.

2002® TDK Recording Media Europe SA
Filmed live at Palazzo del Congressi, Lugano, Italy, January 27, 1983
TDK Mediactive
Director: Stanley Dorfman
Video Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Region Code: NTSC (All)
Disc Format: DVD-9
Sound Track: Stereo Digital 5.1


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