Personalities | Gil Evans | Fifties | Jazz & Blues
(Arranger, composer, piano, 1912–88)
Gil Evans (born Ian Green) achieved fame through his work with Miles Davis on the seminal recordings Miles Ahead (1957), Porgy And Bess (1959) and Sketches Of Spain (1960). His own output was relatively small, but his influence was much larger. His greatest gift lay in arranging – or more accurately, re-composing – the music of others, elaborately cloaked in his own distinctive manipulations of timbre, colour, texture and shape.
Working with Claude Thornhill in the 1940s allowed him to experiment with unusual instrumentation and distinctive ideas, which came to fruition in the projects with Miles, including his contribution to the ‘Birth of the Cool’ sessions (1949–50). His own recordings included Out Of The Cool (1960) and The Individualism Of Gil Evans (1964). His orchestra became an attraction on the international circuit from the mid-1970s; his later music was notably more improvisational in content and allowed the players considerable freedom within looser, sometimes electric and rock-referent structures.
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