Gil Evans (Toronto (Canada), 13 may 1912 – Cuernavaca (Mexico), 20 March 1988) was a jazz musician, and as arranger, composer, bandleader, and pianist an important innovator of big band jazz in the United States. He played a pioneering role in the development of the cooljazz, modal jazz, free jazz and jazz-rock.
Gil Evans was born in Toronto, Canada, as Ian Ernest Gilmore Green and took his stepfather's family name Evans early on. Not much later, the family moved toCalifornia, where he spent the first decades of his life. From 1946 he lived and worked in New York City.
In the period 1941-48 he worked as an arranger for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, and this from 1946 in New York City. His modest basement apartment behind a Chinese laundry soon became a meeting place for musicians who wanted to further develop, the bebop and Charlie Parker himself was also at those involved. With Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan and others worked Evans to a band book for a nonet that started playing in 1948, and that a weekly booking had to be in the "Royal Roost" as between program play for the Count BasieOrchestra. During the course of three sessions in 1949 and 1950 Capitol Records took the twelve songs of the Group; These recordings were reissued on LP as Birth of the Cool in 1957.
When Miles Davis had later signed with Columbia Records producer George Avakian suggested several possible arrangers to the trumpeter, but this immediately chose the option to reconnect with Evans to work. The three most important albums that resulted from the collaboration are Miles Ahead (1957), Porgy and Bess (1958) andSketches of Spain (1960). Later it was also released under the name another cooperation Quiet Nights (1962), but this happened against the likes of Miles Davis. It was also for that reason that the latter his collaboration with his then producer Teo Macero for a time. Although these four records were usually promoted under the name of Miles Davis (often under the name Miles Davis and the Gil Evans Big Band), Evans's contribution was equally important. Their work was the merger of classic big band jazz with a talented solo musician. All these collaborations were marked by the big band arrangements of Evans and the exceptional melodic and stylistic solo work by Davis. Evans worked behind the scenes in the 1960s also contributed to the Davis classics with his quintet.
From 1957 took Evans also on its impressive albums under his own name, such as Big Stuff (1957, also known as Gil Evans & Ten), Out Of The Cool (1960) and The Individualism Of Gil Evans (1964). In 1965 he opened the packages of the big band songs on the album Kenny Burrell's Guitar Forms . In the 1970s went Evans, like Davis and many other jazz musicians, the direction of free jazz and jazz-rock. In this way he reached a next generation admirers. Evans had a particular interest in the rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, and would for the death of Hendrix have planned a meeting with the latter to build a big band around Hendrix. He only started to tour in 1972, where he went to Japan and twice to 1987 many times to festivals and concerts in Europe. In 1987, Evans took a live cd with Sting by performing with big band arrangements of songs bySting and The Police. He has also performed live on in Japan with Jaco Pastorius.
- Gil Evans and At (1957)
- New Bottles, Old Wine (1958) (with Julian Cannonball Adderley)
- Great Jazz Standards (1959)
- Out of the Cool (1960)
- Into the Hot (1961) (with Cecil Taylor, John Carisi)
- The Individualism of Gil Evans (1964)!
- Verve Jazz Masters: Gil Evans 23 (1963 – 1964)
- Guitar Forms (1965) (with Kenny Burrell)
- Look To The Rainbow (1966) (with Astrud Gilberto)
- Svengali (1973)
- Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix (1975)
- There Comes a Time (1975)
- Little Wing (1978)
- Live at the Public Theater Volume 1 & 2 (1980)
- Live at Sweet Basil (1984 – 1986)
- Farewell (1986)
- Bud and Bird (1986)
- Live at Umbria Jazz: Volume 1 & 2 (1987)
- 75th Birthday Concert (1987)
- Paris Blues (1987) (duo with Steve Lacy)
- Last Session (1987) (with Sting)
- A Tribute to Gil (1988)