Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gil Evans - Great Jazz Standards (1959) [Remastered 1997]

Gil Evans - Great Jazz Standards (1959) [Remastered 1997]
EAC rip | FLAC + CUE + LOG | Full Scans | FileSonic/FileServe
Genre ~ Cool, Big Band | Label ~ Capitol Records

Has there been a better album with a worse title? (There must be a list somewhere.) Jazz Standards would have been OK, but Great Jazz Standards is just too lumpy. But it is a very, very good album - containing some of Evans's finest work. It is a companion piece to the previous year's New Bottle Old Wine: like that album it is a series of versions of jazz standards, ranging from Bix Beiderbecke's Davenport Blues through to Clifford Jordan's Joy Spring (but on this album they are not presented chronologically and the record closes with one of Evans's compositions, here called the Theme, but more famously titled Nevada) and like the earlier album it is a series of dialogues with the original material, reflecting a great love for the material while transmuting it into something totally Evansian (again there are no Ellington tunes, probably because Evans' work is always a dialogue with the master); as with the earlier album the general rule is that the slower the music is the better it is, the up tempo Joy Spring is the weakest track while the version of John Lewis's Django is one of Evans's greatest arrangements, again Evans seems to need the temporal space to layer the levels of harmony. It differs from the earlier album in that there is not one central musician - and I think this makes it the stronger album: Johnny Coles is especially fine on the opening Davenport Blues and Django (at first I thought, perhaps because of the context, he was too close to Miles Davis, but on repeated listenings I realised while he had much of the come intensity as Davis it came from a very different temperament); I have previously compared much trombone playing to enthusiastically blowing into bathroom plumbing, but on Ballad of the Sad Young Men, Jimmy Cleveland plays with a control and beauty that shows I lied; Budd Johnson on clarinet and tenor is very fine on Chant of the Weed and the Theme, but Steve Lacy's alto on Straight No Chaser and Django is wonderful. Overall this is one of Evans's finest achievements: so why isn't it more famous?


01 Davenport Blues 4:25
02 Straight No Chaser 6:19
03 Ballad of The Sad Young Men 4:00
04 Joy Spring 2:49
05 Django 8:05
06 Chant of The Weed 4:25
07 La Nevada (Theme) 6:15

Recorded in New York on February 5, 1959 (tracks 3,4,6,7) and early 1959 (tracks 1,2,5)

Thanks to the original uploader!