At a Glance
Evans’s distinctive voice as a composer-arranger is immediately recognizable—as
individual as the well-known instrumentalists for whom he wrote, including
Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter. Within a few seconds of hearing a piece, the
Evans sound is immediately identifiable. Whereas many of his contemporaries
found one set vehicle for their voice to be heard—a big band, quartet, or
medium-sized ensemble, for example—Evans was unique in the fact that he rarely
repeated a set instrumentation from piece to piece. Each new project—or often
within each project—Evans found a new combination of instruments to create a
new, unique sound for the work at hand to flourish.
For tonight’s concert, the Gil Evans Project presents music that utilizes the
largest combinations of instruments for which Evans wrote during his career.
The music spans 24 years, 1947 to 1971—the core section of his career and a
period when he had the most growth and development in his compositional voice.
The span of this evening’s music begins with three pieces Evans wrote during
his tenure with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. These works come from a
nine-month period in which three additional musicians were added (exclusively playing
piccolo and flute), bringing the total number of musicians in the orchestra to 21.
The second section includes music Evans wrote for Miles Davis during his most
well-known period (1957–1962) and ranges from 19 to 20 musicians. The music includes
selections from the classic albums Miles
Ahead, Porgy and Bess, and Quiet Nights, as well as “Spring Is Here,”
which was last performed by Miles Davis and the Gil Evans Orchestra on May 19,
1961, in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage.
The final selection of music receives its second live performance and US
premiere on the Zankel Hall stage tonight, featuring music Evans wrote for one
of his first performances in Europe on November 6, 1971, at the Berlin Jazz
Festival. Written for an ensemble of 24 musicians, this music includes works
that gave Evans the ability to explore the infinite array of colors provided by
these instruments and expand his sonic world to the furthest point of his