Gil Evans

Gil Evans and His Orchestra [Video]

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Gil Evans leads his all-star orchestra in a Swiss concert performance from the 1980s on this video, which has been remastered and reissued as a DVD. While the composer is capable of writing intriguing, forward-thinking charts, the music in this live set is a little erratic and disappointing, coming across like a series of fragmented ideas compiled together rather than complete pieces destined to leave a lasting impression. His limited chops at the keyboard are also evident. That's not to say that the musicians don't give their best to Evans' demanding charts. Trumpeter Randy Brecker, alto saxophonist Herb Geller, trombonist Jiggs Whigham, tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, baritone saxophonist Howard Johnson, and drummer Billy Cobham are just a few of the musicians taking part. Evans' "Hotel Me" comes across eerie but never seems to take shape, while his brief interpretation of Thelonious Monk's "Friday the 13th" merely goes through the motions in a plodding, brief recap of the theme following Johnson's baritone solo. Inexplicably, Evans switches to electric keyboard for a funky take of Charles Mingus' "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk," which suffers from the imposed rockish rhythm. Neither is his arrangement of Gershwin's "Here Come de Honey Man" very satisfying.