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Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project: Lines Of Color

Dan Bilawsky By

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How do you create a follow-up to an album like Centennial-Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans (Artist Share, 2012)? That beauty—the debut from Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project—was more than a standout record; it was an artistic tour de force and a recording for the ages. In crafting that album, Truesdell married his archeological skills, curatorial instincts, arranger's eyes and ears, organizational savvy, and profound respect for the Gil Evans legacy. All of those aspects are also wedded on this wonderful album.

Lines Of Color—recorded live at New York's Jazz Standard in May of 2014—is another wide-ranging celebration of Evans' oeuvre. Truesdell presents music that was never recorded before, familiar material broadened and deepened by the insertion of previously unheard sections, and more. He looks back at Evans' tenure with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra by presenting music that's occasionally bold and swinging ("Gypsy Jump"), dreamy ("Can't We Talk It Over"), and harmonically sophisticated yet accessible ("Easy Living Medley"); he references Evans albums like Gil Evans & Ten (Prestige, 1957), Great Jazz Standards (Blue Note, 1959), and The Individualism Of Gil Evans (Verve, 1964); and he looks at a classic that Evans originally arranged for guitarist Kenny Burrell ("Greensleeves").

With two dozen musicians at his disposal, Truesdell is able to truly capture the power, nuance, and brilliance of Evans' writing. In the process, he's also able to grant ample solo space to some of the finest musicians on the scene. Trumpeter Mat Jodrell perfectly projects the spirit of "Davenport Blues" through his horn, trombonist Marshall Gilkes' work on "Greensleeves" is astounding, pianist Frank Kimbrough delivers one captivating solo after another, and a collection of crafty reed men—Scott Robinson, Dave Pietro, Donny McCaslin, and Steve Wilson—shine on multiple occasions. In the end, there are far too many notable figures, strong solos, and musical highlights to list here. Truesdell, after all, is working with heavy artillery in every seat of every section.

In making a live recording, artists, to some extent, sacrifice pristine sound and control of environmental factors, but they do so for the sake of capturing and projecting the energy and realism that only exists at a performance with an audience. It's a trade-off that's produced plenty of classics over the years, and it's a trade-off that works here. It's far too early to know if this one will join the list of immortal live jazz albums, but one thing's for sure: Lines Of Color is another Truesdell triumph.

Track Listing: Time Of The Barracudas; Davenport Blues; Avalon Town; Concorde; Can't We Talk It Over; Gypsy Jump; Greensleeves; Easy Living Medley: Easy Living/Everything Happens To Me/Moon Dreams; Just One Of Those Things; Sunday Drivin'; How High The Moon.

Personnel: Jesse Han: flute (8); Jessica Aura Taskov: flute (8); Steve Kenyon: flute (8), clarinet (5, 6); Steve Wilson: soprano saxophone (2, 7, 9), alto saxophone (3, 6, 10, 11), alto flute (1, 4), clarinet (3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11); Dave Pietro: alto saxophone (3-8, 10, 11), flute, (2), alto flute (1), clarinet (5, 6, 8); Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone (1, 3, 6-8, 10, 11), flute (4, 9), clarinet (6-8); Scott Robinson: tenor saxophone (3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11), clarinet (6), bass clarinet (5, 6, 8, 11); Brian Landrus: baritone saxophone (3, 6, 8, 10, 11), clarinet (6), bass clarinet (5, 6, 8); Tom Christensen: alto flute (1), oboe (4, 7); English horn (4, 7); Alden Banta: bassoon (1, 4, 7), bass clarinet (2), baritone saxophone (7); Adam Unsworth: French horn; David Peel: French horn (2-6, 8, 10); Augie Haas: trumpet (2-11); Greg Gisbert: trumpet (2-11); Mat Jodrell: trumpet (2-6, 8, 10, 11); Ryan Keberle: trombone (2, 3, 5-11); Marshall Gilkes: trombone; George Flynn: bass trombone (2, 4, 7, 9); Marcus Rojas: tube (2, 4, 5, 7-10); James Chirillo: guitar (2-6, 8-10); Frank Kimbrough: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Lewis Nash: drums; Wendy Gilles: vocals (5, 8, 10); Lois Martin: vocals (4).

Title: Lines Of Color | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Blue Note/artistshare

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