Gil Evans: Up From the Skies


Up From the Skies


Gil Evans Orchestra


The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix (RCA)

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Gil Evans (keyboards, arranger, conductor),

Marvin “Hannibal” Peterson, Lew Soloff (trumpet); Peter Gordon (French horn); Peter Levin (fhr,synt); Tom Malone (trombone, bass trombone); Howard Johnson (tuba, woodwinds); David Sanborn (woodwinds, Billy Harper, Trevor Koehler (woodwinds); David Horowitz (keyboards); John Abercrombie, Ryo Kawasaki (electric guitars); Keith Loving (guitar) Michael Moore (electric bass); Don Pate (bass); Bruce Ditmas (drums); Susan Evans,Warren Smith Jr. (percussion)


Composed by Jimi Hendrix. Arranged by Gil Evans


Recorded: New York, June 11, 1974


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

It is a must to pick one of the pieces that Gil played regularly at Sweet Basil's jazz club in Manhattan with the last band he had. This was always my favorite. It's sonic fun! Who else on the planet could find a way to voice out a Hendrix tune and make it so completely hip, and retain something of the gutsiness that Hendrix had in his sound? Only Gil. I love where the bass clarinet lies in the voicings in relationship to the melody. There's grit and ease at the same time. It's just deliciously left of center. I love the spirit of the band and how they offer variation and nuance to the tune with the synthesizers and guitar. It's so joyful. I got to see a sketch of this, and was shocked when I noticed that in harmonizing this melody Gil employed a technique very familiar to young arrangers called "drop-2." We all tend to think of this technique as formulaic and non-creative. It's the sound you'd hear in just about every sax soli in big band music. How Gil made it sound so fresh here is a mystery. Is it the character of the melody coupled with the way Gil tweaked the harmony within drop-2? I need more time to understand this myself. There's even a story (I hope I have this right!) that Gerry Mulligan used to tell, where Gil came running up to him in utter amazement and enthusiasm about his new discovery about Duke Ellington. It was the last thing Gerry expected to hear when Gil exclaimed, "He uses DROP-2!!!!!" Or was it Gerry who told Gil? I can't remember, but it was me screaming the same thing last week. "Gil used drop-2!!!!" Bask in the joy of this cut.

Reviewer: Maria Schneider


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