Purple hazer: the many lives of Gil Evans

Gil Evans with Miles Davi 012
Gil-Evans-with-Miles-Davis Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives.

One of musical history’s great What Ifs – Jimi Hendrix, Gil Evans and Miles Davis collaborating on an instrumental album. Sadly Hendrix died1 before sessions were scheduled.

By the time he arrived in London 34 years ago, his repertoire had moved on. Fans hoping for the coolly luminous sounds unfurled on earlier albums were to be disappointed. Instead of the delicate reimagining of pieces by Kurt Weill and Léo Delibes, we were presented with bold, driving versions of Jimi Hendrix songs, taken from Evans’s LP devoted to the guitarist’s themes, recorded four years earlier. As a conductor, he preferred to sit at the piano, giving occasional cues but mostly allowing the music to form itself.

Evans met Hendrix through Davis, and the guitarist’s death thwarted their plan to make an instrumental album together. The LP that eventually appeared bore witness to one of Evans’s enduring weaknesses: the painful slowness of his working method. In order to meet the deadline for a Carnegie Hall concert that preceded the recording sessions, five of the eight arrangements were contributed by members of his orchestra, only three coming from his own pen.

(click here to continue reading Purple hazer: the many lives of Gil Evans | Music | The Guardian.)

  1. or was killed []

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