Record of the Day: Gil Evans, "Complete Pacific Jazz Sessions"

Record of the Day: Gil Evans, “Complete Pacific Jazz Sessions”

Gil Evans
The Complete Pacific Jazz Sessions (CD Blue Note 0946358299-2)

The best way to say goodbye to February and start a happier calendar is undoubtedly to feed your reader
CD with this providential reissue that Blue Note has recently created, bringing together in a single volume two of the most
great jazz big band albums never released, by the great arranger and bandleader Gil Evans.

“New Bottle, Old Wine” (1958) had been out of print for some time and “Great Jazz Standards” from 1959 was also in difficulty. Beautifully remastered and brought to light with a full and detailed sound by producer Michael Cuscuna, the two discs find Evans at the height of his artistic possibilities, able to gather around him a cast of musicians that will make your head spin. Cannonball Adderley, as solo saxophone in the first album (in great form, he doesn’t miss a solo) is supported by the crystalline rhythm of Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones, but there is no shortage of other great musicians such as Johnny Coles and Ernie Royal (trumpets), who together the rest of the large brass section march compactly in the impeccable execution of Evans’ virtuosic scores, firing out bursts of swing capable of moving any stereo system.

On the second album we remain at stratospheric levels thanks to artists of the caliber of Elvin Jones (drums), Steve Lacy and Budd Johnson (sax), Louis Mucci (trumpet), Curtis Fuller and Jimmy Cleveland (trombones).
The atmosphere is electric and every member of this sci-fi big band surpasses themselves in skill and enthusiasm.

The great American songbook is revisited by performing a true history of jazz in miniature, paying homage to Armstrong (“Struttin’ with Some Barbecue”), WC Handy (“St. Louis Blues”) and Lester Young (“Lester Leaps in”); there is no shortage of pages by Thelonious Monk (where Evans manages to say something new even in the highly exploited “‘Round Midnight”), Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Clifford Brown, covered with a new coat of paint while still fully respecting the themes originals, as well as by Evans himself (“La Nevad”a, the theme that will open the subsequent, famous, album “Out of the Cool”).

Music with a contagious energy, to be enjoyed both in a crowded meeting with friends and in solitude, appreciating every detail; the important thing is that, in any case, you don’t miss a good drink.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.