May 14, 2012
Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ian Gilmore Green, better known to jazz fans as Gil Evans, one of the greatest arrangers, conductors and composers in jazz history. I think it’s safe to say that only Duke Ellington, rivaled Gil for his contributions to large ensemble music, as both created new sounds, harmonies and textures in the jazz orchestra sound. After using new and different instrumentation with the orchestra of his mentor Claude Thornhill, Evans worked with Miles Davis to create a quartet of masterpieces – The Birth of the Cool, Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, and Sketches of Spain – that helped create the “cool sound” that became his signature.
Gil’s masterpiece without Miles or Thornhill was Out of the Cool, recorded in 1960. The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested "Core Collection" Click here to listen to his version of Kurt Weill’s “Bilbao Song”, by an orchestra featuring musicians like Evans on piano, Johnny Coles (trumpet), Jimmy Knepper (trombone), Bill Barber (tuba), Ron Carter (bass), and Elvin Jones (drums).