THE original intention to celebrate the centenary of Gil Evans with performances of two key recordings in his long career fell foul of problems getting hold of usable charts for The Individualism of Gil Evans.
Instead, director Tim Hagans and the EJFO – a mix of home-based musicians with international players performing at the festival – performed a lengthy selection of material from various points in the great arranger’s journey through jazz. They included early arrangements of Anthropology, Donna Lee and Arab Dance for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra in the 1940s, and Orgone, a chart better known in its incarnation as Gone, Gone, Gone from the Porgy and Bess project with Miles Davis.
The large band, expanded at this point by French horns, slimmed down after the interval for the very particular instrumentation required for Sketches of Spain, Evans’ collaboration of 1959-60 with Miles Davis.
Evans’ characteristic use of a very diverse wind and brass instrumentation, including oboe and bassoon in addition to a wide range of more conventional jazz horns, was rarely better exemplified than in this project.
His distinctive use of musical colour and texture (including a concert harp) found a perfect outlet in this music, whether he was adapting Rodrigo and De Falla or in his own compositions for the project.
Hagans took on the solo role filled by Davis in the original in assured and expressive fashion, while Allon Beauvoison assisted with directing the band.
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