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Gil Evans: Out of the Cool: His Life and Music Paperback – May 1, 2003

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From 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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556524935
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556524936
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,154,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read the manuscript before the book was published, and Stephanie has done a miraculous job. Gil Evans was an extremely private person, and there were so many things about his life that were unknown or mysterious (nobody is even sure what his name is) until Stepanie started compiling her research. This book is filled with little-known information about his early life, and the photos she has discovered are amazing. She has found long-forgotten correspondense between Evans and his friend Pete Carpenter, and has interviewed people who have never spoken about Gil before in print. If you have any interest in 20th century jazz ensemble music, this book is invaluable.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Exhaustive, detailed. Not just a biography, it's a deep analisys of Gil Evans' life in music and in art in general. Interesting also for people who don't know his music.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Of course I knew of Gil's work with Miles. Now I know of his genius by having read this great bio. Strongly recommended for any lover of large ensemble jazz.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book. A thorough biography of Gil Evans was long overdue. His work has long been overlooked and this book will help rectify that.
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