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Gil Evans Centennial Celebration! Jazz Times Article (Part2)


Gil’s other son, Noah Evans, then premiered a video he had put together titled Honoring the Greats, which showed a host of past Evans collaborators who have passed on, including Eric Dolphy, Elvin Jones, Steve Lacy, Gerry Mulligan, Jimmy Garrison, Bob Brookmeyer, Woody Shaw, Michael Brecker, John Stubblefield, Jaco Pastorius, Joe Beck, George Adams, Kenny Kirkland, Bob Berg, Hiram Bullock, Philly Joe Jones, Cannonball Adderley and, of course, Miles Davis. The film concluded with footage of Tony Williams playing and singing his “There Comes a Time” with the Evans orchestra in 1974, which segued smoothly to the live band playing it at the Highline, with Delmar Brown handling the vocals and featuring special guests Lenny White on drums and Darryl Jones on bass. Dave Taylor turned in a potent bass trombone solo on this Williams composition while Jones played more notes in his bass solo than he plays on an entire tour with the Rolling Stones. Miles Evans also blew authoritatively on his trumpet solo while Soloff punctuated the swirling horn harmonies with more high-note blasts over the top. Special guest Jerry Gonzalez also snuck in some tender muted trumpet playing to put a poignant finishing touch on this Williams tune.

Producer John Simon (best known for his work on debut albums by Blood, Sweat & Tears and Leonard Cohen, as well as classic albums by Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Band) next reminisced about his friendship with Evans, recalling his generosity of spirit while playing some leisurely stride-type piano. Simon then performed and sang his own thoughtful tune “Lost,” accompanied by Gonzalez on muted trumpet.

Percussion great Airto, who had worked with Evans on his 1984 album Misa Espiritual: Airto’s Brazilian Mass (which has Evans listed as “musical director” in a collaboration with the NDR Big Band), next turned in an amazing one-man show, singing and whacking everything in sight at his percussion station. Evans’ expansive horn arrangement of Hendrix’s “Stone Free” featured a brilliant display of multiphonics by tuba player Bob Stewart and a strong trombone solo by Tom “Bones” Malone. Delmar Brown next inspired the crowd with a stirring, gospel-tinged solo performance, accompanying himself on organ while showcasing his incredible vocal range. There followed a cool Evans arrangement of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” that featured special guest drummer Jimmy Cobb, who had played on the 1958 recording of that Gil Evans-Miles Davis classic collaboration, Porgy and Bess. And Howard Johnson nearly brought the house down with his earth-shaking tuba work on Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” which also featured Matthew Garrison on electric bass and Gabby Abularach providing the necessary Strat work on this volatile Jimi anthem.

Following a radical reharmonization of “Happy Birthday” that turned into a wild kind of Dixieland free-for-all, this heart-warming reunion concert closed with a brief taste of Evans’ “Eleven, a longtime set-closer for the orchestra. After the final note, there were hugs all around among all the members of Evans’ extended family, and the reminiscing of Gil went on well into the night.