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The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings

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Album Review

Gil Evans released two records on World Pacific in 1958 and 1959. They were among his earliest dates as a leader. Gil Evans & Ten was issued by Prestige in 1957, but these dates stand out more. New Bottle, Old Wine was the first of the pair and the band included four trumpets, a trio of trombones, French horn (played by Julius Watkins), a pair of tubas, Cannonball Adderley as the lone saxophonist, and a rhythm section that included either Philly Joe Jones or Art Blakey on drums, Paul Chambers on bass, and Chuck Wayne on guitar. The reading of "King Porter Stomp" is the stunner here, with Adderley's solo being a prized moment. There isn't a weak cut in the whole mess though. Other standouts include Fats Waller's "Willow Tree," "Lester Leaps In," with great solos by Wayne and Adderley, the burning finale of Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca," and Charlie Parker's "Bird Feathers" closing it out.

The second of these albums, Great Jazz Standards, featured a similar band with some notable differences. For one, the inclusion of soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy as a soloist and rhythm sections that included either Dennis Charles or Elvin Jones on drums, Curtis Fuller on trombone, and Budd Johnson on tenor for about half the set. The finer moments here include "Ballad of the Sad Young Men," (a newish tune at the time with a fine piano solo by Evans) John Lewis' "Django," with a truly brilliant and understated solo by Lacy, who also does a commendable job on "Straight No Chaser." Johnson wails on Gil Evans' "La Nevada (Theme)." Evans arrangement of Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" is also a killer, with his and guitarist Ray Crawford's solos. The Complete Pacific Jazz Recordings is a fine collection issued by Blue Note, which, as part of the Connoisseur Series, is limited and will be out of print again soon. Don't wait.

Biography

Born: 26 May 1926 in Alton, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Throughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz from the mid-'40s to the early '90s, since he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in the...
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