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Arranger / pianist Gil Evans did not record extensively as a leader, and he only released a few albums in the "classic" mode established by his collaborations with Miles Davis. New Bottle Old Wine (originally released on Pacific Jazz in 1958) is perhaps the best regardeddue to the vibrant presence of Julian "Cannonball" Adderley as the featured soloist, and the killer line-up of tunes from jazz's past, which Evans transformed into modern, third-stream-leaning music with all the wit of his best collaborations with Davis.
Perhaps this is the reason this releaseoriginally on Pacific Jazzwas chosen to be part of the Blue Note Tone Poet vinyl series. Unfortunately, while the music is excellent, the reissue is disappointing on two levels. It suffers from clicks and pops unacceptable in a relatively highly priced "audiophile" reissue like this. Also, unlike other albums in the series, the album is not a gatefold.
Most important is the sound of the recording itself. It is plagued by distortion. The painstaking transfer only highlights the problemit's like watching a sloppily-shot television show from the 1970s on a modern high-resolution television set. In the pitiless glare of this reissue, the distortion of the louder passages is painfully obvious, and the reverb slathered on Adderley makes it sound like he teleported in from another session. One can only guess what a first-rate studio might have brought out of these sessions (if only they had been recorded by RCA, Columbia, or, indeed, Blue Note). Pacific clearly didn't have the technical chops to capture the music properly.
Anyone who loves early Gil Evans needs to hear Old Bottle New Wine. It's a delightful album. But in this case, a little sonic Vaseline on the lens can only be a good thing. Like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, the album really isn't ready for its close-up.
Track Listing: Side One: St. Louis Blues; King Porter Stomp; Willow Tree; Struttin’ With Some Barbeque. Side Two: Lester Leaps
In; ‘Round Midnight; Manteca; Bird Feathers.
Personnel: Gil Evans: piano, arranger, conductor; Cannonball Adderley: alto saxophone; Jonny Coles,
Louis Mucci, Ernie Royal, Clyde Reasinger: trumpet; Joe Bennet, Fran Rehak, Tom Mitchell:
trombone; Julius Watkins: french horn; Harvey Phillips or Bill Barber: tuba; Jerry Sanfino or
Phil Bodner: reeds; Chuck Wayne: guitar; Paul Chambers: bass; Philly Joe Jones or Art Blakey:
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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