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The biggest ribbons in composer/arranger Gil Evans' (1912-1988) resume are three groundbreaking Columbia Records albums he recorded with trumpeter Miles Davis: Miles Ahead (1958); Porgy and Bess (1959); and Sketches of Spain (1960). These were orchestral jazz of the finest caliber, recorded a decade after Evans' earlier work with Davis on the seminal Capitol Records set Birth of the Cool, released in 1957. Evans' chartswritten with the the inclusion of the then unusual (in jazz) French horns and the then out-of-fashion tubatended less toward the brassy, in-your-face, wall-of-sound horn harmonies and more toward softer shades, less primary colors, more a mixing in of diaphanous pastels and airy, floating harmonics that seemed to trail silk curtains into the sound.
Lines of Color: Gil Evans Project Live at the Jazz Standard is composer/producer Ryan Truesdell's sophomore go at presenting Evans' music, following the Grammy Award winning Centennial: Newly Discover Works by Gil Evan (ArtistShare, 2012). The success of this studio project debut by Truesdell led to an annual residency at The Jazz Standard in New York City, the success of which led to the composer/arranger decision to make this second record of Gil Evans music Live.
Evans' spent his early career arranging for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra in the 1940s. "Avalon Town" features those silky Evans-onian harmonies, and a bucketful of inspired solos from pianist Frank Kimbrough, trumpet man Mat Jordel, reedists Steve Wilson, Scott Robinson and Dave Pietro, trombonist Ryan Keberle and guitarist James Chirillo, who adds a modern flair to the cool 1940s groove. "Gypsy Jump," an Evans original, is sassy with swirling reeds, and "Can't We Talk It Over" is a gorgeous ballad with a cool cushion of a brass, reeds and rhythm behind vocalist Wendy Gilles, whose horn like delivery sounds like something straight out of the mid-forties.
From Evans' mid career comes "Just One of Those Things," the often-covered Cole Porter tune, with Steve Wilson on a full-bodied soprano saxophone burning things up, before trombonist Ryan Keberle goes beautifully bombastic, leading into Kimbrough's crisp bounce on the piano keyboard. From Evans' 1960s writing come "Time of the Barracudas," a tune that first appeared on Individualism of Gil Evans (Verve, 1964), with Marshall Gilkes' succinct trombone solo rolls over an ominous backdrop, giving way to tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin tears into his spot in a tight sequence of sharp notes.
It will be interesting if Ryan Truesdel, with two outstanding CD releases of Gil Evans material now under his belt, branches out next with a set of his own tunes, or stays a bit longer inside Evans' musical world. Sounds like a big-win situation either way.
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.
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