Big band with a twist. That’s
the nature of the Gil Evans Project album, Lines of Color (Blue
Note/Artist Share, 2015).
Conducted by Ryan Truesdell, the orchestra is comprised of woodwinds:
Jesse Han, Jessica Aura Taskov, Steve Kenyon, Steve Wilson, Dave Pietro,
Donny McCaslin, Scott Robinson, Brian Landrus, Tom Christensen and Alden
Banta; French horns: Adam Unsworth and David Peel; trumpets: Augie Haas,
Greg Gisbert and Mat Jodrell; trombones: Ryan Keberle and Marshall
Gilkes; bass trombone: George Flynn; tuba: Marcus Rojas; guitar: James
Chirillo; piano: Frank Kimbrough; bass: Jay Anderson; drums: Lewis Nash;
voice: Wendy Gilles; and viola: Lois Martin.
“Time of the Barracudas” has a deceptive opening. Soft sounds, led by
the flutes, it has a slight symphonic edge. The other horns come in,
with Gilke taking lead. The mood shifts to a moderate, cheerful sound.
Gradually, the piece picks up energy behind the throaty trombone.
McCaslin follows on tenor, going through several mood changes as he
takes the instrument to its depths, then brings is it back to mid-range
with a few high notes sprinkled in. The pace shifts from up-tempo to
easygoing to near frantic. The band goes silent while Nash gives the kit
a brief workout, before the song reverts to its symphonic beginnings.
Anderson’s bass line opens
“Concorde,” a finger-snapping, toe-tapping big band song. One of the
highlights is the layered horn action, with winds doing this, some brass
doing that and other brass doing the other thing. Martin’s viola is a
nice touch. Soloists are Gisbert, Anderson and Pietro.
Lines of Color was
recorded during the Gil Evans Project’s annual week-long engagement at
the Jazz Standard in New York City, May 13-18, 2014. It consists of six
Gil Evans arrangements that had not been recorded, two arrangements with
previously unheard sections and three better-known charts from his
classic recordings. It’s the second album by the Grammy-nominated