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Gil Evans Centennial Celebration – May 20th, 2012

Last night at the Jazz Standard, some of Gil Evans’ finest, and least known, compositions and arrangements graced the stage again. Led by Ryan Truesdell, an all-star lineup of New York’s finest played some of the most wonderfully complex and challenging arrangements in the late Mr. Evans’ vast catalog.

Truesdell and the group played all weekend at Jazz Standard, each night featuring a different aspect of Evans’ career. Sunday night featured arrangements and compositions for vocalists. If you follow this blog, you’ll know that this was a good fit for this reviewer, especially since one of my favorite singers, Kate McGarry, simply sparkled in this setting, wearing a number of hats as the stand-in for a coy Astrud Gilberto and a swinging Lucy Reed in turn, but still giving each number her own more-than-capable spin.

Other star turns in the evening included the incredible Romero Lubambo on guitar, Dave Pietro on all manner of woodwinds (including a surprising turn on the piccolo) and Marshall Gilkes on trombone. It was exciting and surprising to hear those masterful arrangements played so skillfully in such a strange ensemble that included tenor violin, bassoon, french horns, tuba and a battalion of flutes that augmented a really solid regular ensemble.

Standout charts from last night included the sultry “Smoking My Sad Cigarette”, the encore Horace Silver number “Sister Sadie” and the Alec Wilder tune, “Moon and Sand”.

While Truesdell & Co.’s run in NYC is over, you can still catch some of this fantastic music at the Newport Jazz Festival later this summer, or go grab the album of some of the newly-discovered Evans charts, Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans, which was released May 13th on ArtistShare.