Gil Evans, the most innovative arranger in the history of jazz, died in 1988. He is remembered for his work with Miles Davis in the 1950s, starting with the ground-breaking album The Birth Of The Cool with a pianoless nonet, and peaking with Miles Ahead, in which he turned a collection of seemingly diverse songs into a concept album by expertly writing small linking passages to them.
Hidden Treasures has been produced by his sons, Miles and Noah. It is the first studio recording in over 40 years by the Gil Evans Orchestra and takes for its artistic starting point the early 1980s, long after the glory days of Evans' association with Miles Davis, when their father played piano on Monday nights at the Sweet Basil club in Greenwich Village.
"Subway" opens the proceedings. Written and arranged by keyboards player Pete Levin, it is based on a heavy bass figure, with the ensemble coping manfully with the twists and turns that follow. The whole piece is deftly anchored by drummer Kenwood Dennard. "LL Funk," written and arranged by Miles Evans, a trumpet player, is simpler, intended primarily for disco dancing. It is reminiscent of some of the things Earth Wind And Fire used to do.
The slow and wistful "I Surrender" was written by pianist Delmar Brown, who died in 2017. Brown collaborated with saxophonist Alex Foster, who plays passionately in tribute to his late colleague. "Groove From The Louvre" is lighter, written and arranged by John Clark, who excels on French horn. "Lunar Eclipse" is a kind of deranged march, arranged by Gil Evans, harking back to Sketches Of Spain, another seminal album from his collaboration with Miles Davis. Kenwood Dennard gives a terrific performance on drums.
The album concludes with two numbers written and arranged by Gil Evans himself. "Moonstruck" is a short whimsical piece with fine ensemble passages, while "Eleven," originally appeared on the 1968 Miles Davis album, Filles de Kilimanjaro as "Petits Machins (Small Stuff)."
Noah and Miles Evans plan two more Hidden Treasures albums. The Classics, will feature their father's songs, including "My Ship" and "The Meaning Of The Blues," both used on Miles Ahead. This will be followed by Gil And Anita, named for Evans and his wife, their mother.
Subway; LL Funk; I Surrender; Groove From The Louvre; Lunar Eclipse; Moonstruck; Eleven.
Miles Evans, Shunzo Ohno: trumpet; Alex Sipiagin: trumpet (3, 4, 7); Jon Faddis: trumpet (1, 5, 6); Dave Bargeron: trombone
(1, 5, 6), Birch Johnson: trombone (3, 4, 7); David Taylor: bass trombone; John Clark: French horn; Chris Hunter: alto sax, flute;
David Mann: alto sax (2); Alex Foster: tenor sax, soprano sax; Gary Smulyan: baritone sax (1, 5, 6); Alden Banta: baritone sax
(3, 4, 7); Gil Goldstein: piano (1, 2, 5, 6); Pete Levin: keyboards; Paul Shaffer: fender rhodes (2); Delmar Brown: synthesizer (1,
2, 5); Charles Blenzig: synthesizer (2, 3, 4, 7); Vernon Reid: guitar (2); Gabby Abularach: guitars (1, 4, 5); Mark Egan: bass;
Darryl Jones: bass (2); Matthew Garrison: bass & bass solo (2); Kenwood Dennard: drums; Mino Cinelu: percussion.