Pianist, band leader and composer Ian Ernest Gilmore Green, or as he is better know, Gil Evans, played an instrumental role in the development of free, modal, fusion and most of all, cool jazz. Evans numbers extensive collaborations with the great Miles Davis and arranging duties for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra in the 1940s among his many accomplishments.
To mark the hundredth anniversary of Evans' birth date, 13 May 1912, producer and conductor Ryan Truesdell unveils Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans featuring 35 of New York's top musicians.
Considered as one of the foremost Evans scholars, Truesdell was the first person outside of the Evans family to be granted full access to his musical archives. During his research for this project, Truesdell realized some of the manuscripts in the archives were unfamiliar and he subsequently unearthed 50 never-heard-before scores, from which he chose ten for this album.
The exotic "Punjab," along with an original score written for a 1994 album "Barbara Song" and the "Waltz/Variation On The Misery/So Long" medley are all noteworthy extended tracks. Vocalist Kate McGarry tackles the reworking of blues-tinged "Smoking My Sad Cigarette," while newcomer Wendy Gilles sounds off on the old swing-style big band number "Beg Your Pardon, these charts were originally written for Brazilian samba and bossa nova singer Astrud Gilberto and the late Chicago jazz vocalist Lucy Reed. Brassy sounding "The Maids of Cadiz" and "Dancing On A Great Big Rainbow" were first penned for the Thornhill Orchestra and pianist Frank Kimbrough, trumpeter Greg Gisbert, alto saxophonist Dave Pietro and tenor man Donny McCaslin make for excellent featured soloists on these tunes. "How About You" is orchestrated terrifically with Kimbrough and Gisbert joining clarinetist Scott Robinson on solos. Brazilian songstress Luciana Souza brings the album to a close with the light Brazilian flavored "Look to the Rainbow."
Ryan Truesdell unearthed a treasure trove of music when he searched those archives and Centennial, is one heck of a commemoration for the iconic Gil Evans. One can only wonder what future treasures he may yet have to reveal. Let's hope if he does, he calls upon the same players he enlisted for this excellent project.
Track Listing: Punjab; Smoking My Sad Cigarette; The Maids of Cadiz; How About You; Barbara Song; Who'll Buy My Violets; Dancing On A Great Big Rainbow; Beg Your Pardon; Waltz/Variation On The Misery/So Long; Look To The Rainbow.
Personnel: Henrik Heide: flute, piccolo; Jesse Han: flute, piccolo, bass flute; Jennifer Christen: oboe; Sarah Lewis: Oboe; Ben Barron: Michael Rabinowitz: bassoon; Alden Banta: bassoon, contra bassoon; Steve Wilson: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, flute, clarinet; Dave Pietro: alto saxophone, flute, alto flute; Danny McCaslin: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Scott Robinson: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Brian Landrus: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, alto flute, piccolo; Charles Pillow: flute, piccolo, clarinet, oboe, English Horn; Adam Unsworth: French horn; David Peel: French horn; John Craig Hubbard: French horn; Augie Hass: trumpet; Greg Gisbert: trumpet; Laurie Fink: trumpet; Ryan Kerberle: trombone; Marshal Gilkes: trombone; George Flynn: bass trombone; Marcus Rojas: tuba; James Chirillo: acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Romero Lubambo: acoustic guitar; Frank Kimbrough: piano, harmonium; Jay Anderson: bass; Lewis Nash: drums; Joe Locke: vibraphone; Mike Truesdell: timpani, marimba; Dave Eggar: tenor violin; Dan Weiss: tabla; Kate McGarry: vocals (2); Wendy Gilles: vocals (8); Luciana Souza: vocals (10).