Gil Evans: Zee Zee


Zee Zee


Gil Evans Orchestra


Svengali (Koch Jazz KOC-CD-8518)

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Gil Evans (electric piano, arranger), Marvin Hannibal Peterson (trumpet),

Richard Williams (trumpet); Joseph Daley (tuba); Sharon Freeman, Pete Levin (French horn); Billy Harper (tenor saxophone); Howard Johnson (tuba, woodwinds); Trevor Koehler (woodwinds); David Sanborn (alto saxophone); David Horowitz (synthesizer); Ted Dunbar (electric guitar); Herb Bushler (electric bass); Bruce Ditmas (drums); Sue Evans (percussion)


Composed by Gil Evans


Recorded: Philarmonic Hall, New York, June 30, 1973


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

It's hard for me to decide which song to take from Svengali. This album shook my world in about 1982, when I heard it for the first time. The whole thing has such a mystery to it. It was while listening to “Zee Zee” that I saw myself one day working with Gil. At the time, seeing that in my mind didn't register as any true reality that would come to be, but, bizarrely and by sheer coincidence, it became reality. The piece is largely about atmosphere. The musical idea is simple. All the chords are moving chromatically in parallel motion and the bass simply passes from a minor I to a minor IV chord. There are chimes moving in the same pattern. To me, it recalls the wind, but the wind in a dark, brewing storm, the kind that blows through the window, shakes the shutter and turns the air green. Perhaps you have to come from tornado country to relate to that, but that's where it takes me, and it's interesting that the last sound is the sound of wind. I just love the essence of this. And I love that it's all played out of time. Everyone just breathes and sighs the figure in tandem as Hannibal Marvin Peterson slowly builds in intensity and finally just wails over it. This piece is a total distillation of Gil to the most extreme: the type of harmony, the quirky intervals, the colors, the linearity, attention to the soloist, and, above all, the attention to evoking something that, once again, goes beyond music. How can something that is so spare compositionally and with so much free improvisation still be so completely and utterly Gil?

Reviewer: Maria Schneider


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