thu 18/07/2024

CD: Mike Gibbs + TWELVE play Gil Evans | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Mike Gibbs + TWELVE play Gil Evans

CD: Mike Gibbs + TWELVE play Gil Evans

New big band recording is huge, unexpected treat for jazz fans

From Gibbs to Gil

Think of the ingredients you look for in a great jazz record – inspired, exploratory improv, the complete reinvention of standards, ear-catching arrangements, sonorities you've never heard before – and this new big band recording from Mike Gibbs delivers them all. By the bucketload.

In a career that's spanned four decades, the 76-year-old composer, arranger and trombonist has worked and recorded with many of the music world's leading lights including Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel, Kenny Wheeler and Django Bates. This latest addition to the Gibbs discography commemorates the 100th anniversary of the late, great Gil Evans (1912-1988), recorded in just a single day following a two-day residency at London's Vortex.

While any new recording from Gibbs is to be welcomed unequivocally, this 10-track collection – six adaptations of favourite Evans arrangements, Carla Bley's “Ida Lupino”, Ornette Coleman’s “Ramblin”, plus a brace of originals (“Feelings And Things” and “Tennis, Anyone?) – is a huge, unexpected treat for jazz fans.

Calling out into the firmament, the sorrowing brass chorale of “Bilbao Song” (from Kurt Weill's Happy End) provides the vivid album opener. From Hans Koller's slightly skewed piano intro to “Las Vegas Tango” and Mark Nightingale's blazing trombone solo on “Sister Sadie”, to Finn Peters' languorous alto work on a luxuriant “St Louis Blues”, the stellar cast of musicians play their hearts out, and the level of invention never falters for a second.

Gibbs saves the best until last, a wondrous arrangement of the Rodgers and Hart evergreen “Wait Till You See Her”. Taken from the 1964 Miles Davis/Gil Evans album Quiet Nights, the pleasingly full textures glint with a jewel-like brilliance. A magnificent tribute, from one master to another.

Watch Mike Gibbs perform with the Kinetic Jazz Orchestra

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