Friday, April 05, 2019

Miles Davis / Gil Evans ‎– The Best Of Miles Davis and Gil Evans (Columbia / Legacy, 1997)

Miles Davis made several albums with the arranger Gil Evans during the 1950's and 1960's, placing his beautiful and evocative trumpet and flugelhorn sound into lush backdrops and emotional arrangements that led to some of his most popular and critically regarded work. During the 1990's, Columbia/Legacy re-released reams of Davis material on compact disc, including Miles Davis and Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings, a lavish slab of six discs with a nearly 200-page booklet that had an eye-popping price tag to match (since been re-released in a long box format, much cheaper but possibly OOP.) The budget option is this placeholder, a nicely chosen sampler from the sessions, giving you a wide range of selections from the Davis / Evans collaborations along roughly chronological order, beginning with "My Ship," "Blues for Pablo" and "Miles Ahead" from the album of that name, with the large band containing heavy hitters like Lee Konitz, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor. The Davis / Evans reading of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess is quite beautiful, represented here by Davis's handsome overdubbed flugelhorn solo on "Gone," "My Man's Gone Now," an absolutely heartbreaking version of "Summertime" and "I Love's You Porgy." The two collaborators next built the album Sketches of Spain around their epic reimagination of the composition "Concierto de Aranjuez," an enormous performance of over sixteen minutes in length. It tasked their particular talents to the limits, in terms of taking this classical piece creating an epic jazz tone poem, but also the epic soloing of Davis on both flugelhorn and trumpet. Musically and personally Davis and Evans began to drift apart as the sixties dawned, but with the boom in Brazilian music and the bossa-nova craze hitting the USA they were able to cobble together enough music to build the album Quiet Nights, and "Wait Till You See Her," Jobim's "Corcovado" are represented on this disc. They are rather moody and quiet, exotic and alluring in their own way as is the final track, and excerpt from the lengthy track "Time of the Barracudas." Whether this is really the "best of" the music that Davis and Evans made during their period of close collaboration is a matter of individual interpretation. This disc does serve its purpose however, as a palate whetter for the curious and a stopgap for those who prefer Miles Davis small group and fusion outings. Best of Miles Davis and Gil Evans -

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