At last, one might cry, at last these gems are available again after so many years! Strangely enough, connoisseurs of fine sound and music with a difference have been very reserved when it came to expressing their appreciation of the arranger, composer and conductor Gil Evans. Gil’s milestones in jazz history (his work with Miles Davis and his melancholy trumpet is now legendary) have become entrenched in our memories thanks to his unusual combination of instruments: waldhorns, tuba, oboe – all played by jazz musicians.
In particular Kurt Weill’s Barbara Song from the Dreigroschenoper is a real hit as regards the art of arranging: to use a harp and tenor saxophone was risky, to say the least, but the result is highly convincing. In El Toreador the influence of the Spaniard Manuel de Falla is undeniable, but what Johnny Coles and the three bass players make of it is pure jazz.
Without wanting to resort to a cliché, it must be said that this re-release has been worth the waiting: work on the numbers took three years, and the tape has been lingering in the archive for the past 40 years. From beginning to end, the five numbers provide fans in the year 2005 with proof of Gil Evans’s masterly arrangements and endless ideas. And what is more, the sound of this re-release is far better than the flat sound of that from the Sixties.
Las Vegas Tango