Gil Evans (piano, arranger), Billy Cobham (drums), Tim Landers (bass), Dean Brown (guitar), Gil Goldstein (keyboards), Mike Mainieri (vibes), John Clark (french horn), Howard Johnson (tuba, baritonesax), Michael Brecker, Thomas Gruenwald (tenorsax), Herb Geller (altosax) Tom Malone, Jiggs Whigham, Hermann Breuer, Rudi Fuessers (trombones) & Randy Brecker, Lew Soloff, Benny Bailey, Ack Van Rooyen (trumpets)
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In their series of recordings of unforgettable concerts Arthaus releases a gig with a piano legend and his orchestra comprised of high-powered jazz musicians. Gil Evans’ career first took flight in the 1950s and 1960s when he collaborated with Miles Davis on several albums. Evans, who was born in Canada in 1912, enjoyed ongoing musical activity until shortly before his death in 1988, including a famous appearance with pop-star Sting at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia 1987.
This concert was recorded live at the Palazzo dei Congressi in Lugano in late January 1983 and can be regarded as a kind of timeless legacy of the Evans style, because Evans plays some of his own compositions and works by jazz greats like Monk and Mingus as well as works by Gershwin and rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Evans and his orchestra provide fresh interpretations of these standards and it seems it is only the musicians clothing that betrays the recording date more then two decades ago.
He starts with his own composition “Copenhagen Sights” – just accompanying while the four-valve trumpet points the way. Superstition makes itself felt in “Friday the 13th”, composed by the great Thelonius Monk. Next in line are Evans’ own “Variations on Misery” and his “Waltz”. Charles Mingus, another jazz giant, composed “Orange....”., the title is followed by Jimi Hendrix’ “Stone Free” and Gershwin’s “Honey Man”, in which the entire ensemble performs the introduction with Evans acting subtly in the background. In the last track “Gone”, another Gershwin composition, Evans is back in his role as a bandleader: he conducts the ensemble until the music amazingly disappears into nothing making room for nothing but applause.