A Tribute for Gil Evans on His 100th Birthday

By WGBH Jazz

May 14, 2012

gilevans

Gil Evans at the office studio of Artists House on West 37th St. in New York City. Photo by Carol Friedman, 1978.

BOSTON — Sunday marked the 100th birthday of the late jazz legend Gil Evans. He is best known for his compositions and arrangements, and worked with Miles Davis on several albums for Columbia Records in the 1940s and 50s.
 
As a young man growing up in California, Evans said it was radio broadcasts of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and the Casa Loma Band that inspired him to become a musician. With no means for real music training, Evans depended on informal piano lessons from friends and taught himself by copying what he gleaned from record albums.
 
WGBH host Steve Schwartz, on his Friday night jazz show, talked about Evans' gift for unusual instrumentation and arrangement.
 
“He used a lot of low brass in his arrangments: tuba and French horn, bass clarinets and oboe and baritone saxophone, English horns and the like, in addition to the standard saxophones, trumpets and trombones. But he got that beautiful color and texture from using those [additional] instruments,” Schwartz said.

The Gil Evans Orchestra will celebrate the legacy of its namesake this May 21 with a centennial celebration in New York City. Paul Shaffer will emcee the event at the Highline Ballroom, with appearances by Jimmy Cobb, Airto Moreira, Lenny White, Will Lee, John Simon and Matthew Garrison.
 
WGBH Radio continues its tribute to Evans as WGBH jazz host Eric Jackson devotes his entire Monday night broadcast to the work of Evans and Miles Davis, with songs from the Columbia albums the collaborated on: Birth of the Cool [1957], Miles Ahead [1957], Porgy and Bess [1958] and Sketches of Spain [1960].
 
Listen to Dee Dee Bridgwater's tribute to Evans on her show Jazzset, and listen to WGBH Jazz hosts Steve Schwartz and Eric Jackson celebrate his centennial on 89.7 FM.

Eric Jackson: A Tribute to Gil Evans

Jazz With Steve Schwartz: Gil Evans Centennial

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