This week KIOS celebrates the 100th birthday of Gil Evans, one of jazz music's most celebrated composers and arrangers. Jazz in the Afternoon will begin the weeklong tribute on Tuesday May 8th with music featuring Evans work as a leader and in collaboration with Miles Davis. NPR's Jazz Profiles will examine his life and career on Thursday May 10th. JazzSet will present a concert tribute to the collaborative efforts between Evans and Miles Davis on Friday May 11th. And Rick Erben and Chris Cooke will have more music from the Evans catalogue on Saturday night the 12th on Jazz Junction and Last Call respectively. Last Call will present a recording Gil Evans made of the music of Jimi Hendrix.
Gil Evans was born May 13, 1912. A Jazz bandleader, composer, arranger, and pianist, Evans is known for his recordings with Miles Davis. Those recordings, Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, Sketches of Spain, and Quiet Nights, featured Davis' trumpet in front of mesmerizing big band stylings from Evans. They are an important part of jazz history. Additionally, Evans was at the hub a group of forward looking musicians in New York in the 1940s who were exploring directions in music beyond bebop. This led to the historic "Birth of the Cool" sessions led by Miles Davis in the late 1940s.
Leading his own ensembles and big bands beginning in the 1950s onward, Evans recorded a mesmerizing series of big band efforts that featured the best jazz artists in the business. Finding inspiration in the music of Jimi Hendrix in the late 1960s, Gil Evans pursued jazz rock and electronic musical colors in his recordings from the 1970s onwards. Evans released in 1974 a disc featuring arrangements of songs from guitarist Jimi Hendrix, with bold, invigorating interpretations of the guitarist's music. Gil Evans was able to contract the most accomplished musicians in his ensembles, producing recordings that consistently reached the highest levels of artistic excellence. In the last years of his career, his apprentice was Maria Schneider, who went on to become one of the most accomplished bandleaders, arrangers and composers of all of jazz history.
Gil Evans passed away in March 1988.