Gil Evans: Out of the Cool: His Life and Music [NOOK Book]


The life (1912-1988) and career of Gil Evans paralleled and often foreshadowed the quickly changing world of jazz through the twentieth century. His innovative work as a composer, arranger, and bandleader -- for Miles Davis, with whom he frequently collaborated over the course of four decades, and for his own ensembles -- places him alongside Duke Ellington and Aaron Copland as one of the giants of American music. His unflagging creativity galvanized the most prominent jazz ...
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Gil Evans: Out of the Cool: His Life and Music

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The life (1912-1988) and career of Gil Evans paralleled and often foreshadowed the quickly changing world of jazz through the twentieth century. His innovative work as a composer, arranger, and bandleader -- for Miles Davis, with whom he frequently collaborated over the course of four decades, and for his own ensembles -- places him alongside Duke Ellington and Aaron Copland as one of the giants of American music. His unflagging creativity galvanized the most prominent jazz musicians in the world, both black and white.

Gil Evans: Out of the Cool is the first comprehensive biography of a self-taught musician whom colleagues often regarded as a mentor. It traces Evans's early years: his first dance bands in California, during the Depression; his life as a studio arranger in Hollywood; and his early work with Claude Thornhill, one of the most unusual bandleaders of the Big Band Era. After Evans settled in New York City in 1946, Evans's basement apartment quickly became a meeting ground for musicians. The discussions that took place there among Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, and others resulted in the "Birth of the Cool" scores for the Miles Davis Nonet and, later on, Evans's masterpieces with Davis: Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, and Sketches of Spain. Throughout his career, Evans's writing enhanced the artistry of other musicians, coaxing them into going "beyond notation," as one colleague put it. From the late 1960s on, the music he created with his experimental big band attracted pop superstars as well, notably the guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Evans's work remained compelling and uncompromising until his death.

Written with the cooperation of Evans's friends, colleagues, and family, and based on scores of interviews and newly found documentation, Gil Evans: Out of the Cool is the definitive account of one of America's greatest musical figures.

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Editorial Reviews

A beautifully constructed biography.
Miles Davis
[Gil] changed the whole sound. . . . There is nobody on this earth who can do that anymore.
John Szwed
At long last, a book on one of jazz's most pivotal (and enigmatic) figures!
Harvey Pekar
Solid work, quite readable and chock full of information.
Jazz Times
Publishers Weekly
One of jazz's great musical arrangers and composers the author compares him to Duke Ellington and Aaron Copland Evans is principally known today for his groundbreaking work with trumpeter Miles Davis. In this comprehensive albeit somewhat dry biography, music journalist Crease depicts how Evans's life and career both shaped and were shaped by the changes in jazz. After a hardscrabble upbringing in California, Evans, a self-taught musician, quickly became a top arranger during the big band era of the 1930s. Even during this early period, he showed what was then an unusual trait: an interest in borrowing from other musical genres, principally classical. After World War II, Evans moved to New York City, where he became part of the scene that fueled jazz's postwar boom. Following a brief career downturn in the early 1950s, he rose to some prominence with the well-known and flamboyant Davis. Together, the two pioneered the relaxed, subtle sound of cool jazz referred to in the book's title. Unfortunately for the lay reader, Crease fails to define or explore the elements of cool jazz. She also gives little attention to Evans's personal life, which for a jazz musician of his generation was relatively quiet, though it included a brief breakdown and a divorce from a wife who many believed was alcoholic. There's little doubt that Evans, who died in 1987, deserves wider acclaim; unfortunately, this biography is unlikely to generate it. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Evans (1912-88) was a lavishly gifted jazz arranger whose brilliant collaborations with alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Miles Davis ensure him an enduring fame despite the lingering prejudice of purists who insist that if it's written down, it's not jazz. Until the end of his life, Evans devoted his days and often his nights to searching for new sounds, for it was pure sound not melody or rhythm that had always fascinated him. With the cooperation of Evans's friends and family, journalist Crease carefully chronicles Evans's progress, first as the leader of a highly successful West Coast band, next as an arranger for the Skinnay Ennis band (after Ennis had left Hal Kemp), and then as an arranger for the Claude Thornhill band. Most likely, it was Thornhill who inspired Evans to begin to think in ways that would eventually lead to his innovations in harmony and instrumentation. The author is remarkably skilled at describing music, but readers should still proceed with selections of Evans's music playing in the background. Thankfully, Crease provides a discography that includes CDs by the Gil Evans orchestra and the several monumental productions featuring Davis Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, and Sketches of Spain. Highly recommended, especially since competing biographies are out of print. Harold Cordry, Baldwin, KS Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556529863
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,269,980
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Stephanie Stein Crease is the author of Music Lessons: Guide Your Child to Play a Musical Instrument, and Duke Ellington: His Life in Jazz. She 

 is a music journalist who has contributed to the New York Times, Down Beat, JAZZIZ, Pulse, and The Oxford Companion to Jazz.

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Table of Contents

Introduction and Acknowledgments xi
1. Stockton 1
2. Prince of Swing 19
3. Hollywood 46
4. Claude Thornhill--His Band and His Sound 71
5. Wartime 98
6. 52nd Street Annex 124
7. Moon Dreams 146
8. Jambangle 180
9. Out of the Cool 219
10. Svengali 258
11. Sweet Basil 298
12. Epilogue (Parabola) 325
Notes 331
Bibliography 343
Selected Discography 349
Index 375
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Gil Evans Musical Gift To Us All

    Gil Evans was and still remains as a musical gift to all of us. He brought a strong sense of originality and depth of intellect to everything musical that his spirit and body touched. I will be 60 years old in two weeks. When I was barely out of my teens, I had the unmistakeable assignment to be invited to a private music session with the eminent percussionist, Warren Smith, Gil Evans and myself on trumpet. We played into the evening. I was so excited to witness this master in the flesh and to partake a bit of the sense of musical genius, that I will always remember this truly wonderful day. The biography is a gift to the world. And the music of Gil Evans remains a wonderful tribute to the power, creative prowess and genius of the human spirit.
    Until the genius of Gil Evans was placed on the table, the traditional sounds of the big band were not truly explored as they were with him. The gifts of sonority between trumpets, trombones and winds were truly opened up to a new and majestic amalgamation of new harmonic levels of clarity and melding of harmonic variances. Gil answered the call for a new array of voices to be experienced by humanity.
    When Miles entered the picture, the world experienced a wonderful array of the possibility of the expansion of a new aural array of wonder, preeminent in music. The big band, no longer a vehicle utilized to accompany moving feet on the dance floor, but a welcome addition to the heart and spirit of those of us that truly love and enjoy so many different sonorities of musical excellence.
    Stephanie Stein Crease, you have more than mastered the written word as you engage in the process of informing us mortal individuals of the exceptional life that we have been blessed to experience on this planet. Gil Evans and Miles Davis.......................A MUSICAL GIFT TO US ALL.
    This work is a passion beyond a passion; a depth of intellect that allows us to truly be blessed with the wonders of the human spirit. This is a work that truly must not be missed. Gil and Miles; Miles and Gil.....................LET THE SONOROUS RICHES OF SOUND; CONTINUE..............................A BLESSING TO US ALL

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