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Producer/Conductor Ryan Truesdell Releases "Centennial: Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans" May 17-20 At Jazz Standard

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Join producer/conductor Ryan Truesdell as he celebrates the release of his debut CD CENTENNIAL: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans at the Jazz Standard, 116 E. 27th Street, NYC for four nights: Thursday, May 17 – Sunday, May 20. Sets at 7:30 and 9:30 every night, with an 11:30 set on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $25 Thursday and Sunday, $30 Friday and Saturday. Call 212-576-2232.

Joining conductor Truesdell for this performance are some 30 top musicians including Lewis Nash, Donny McCaslin, Steve Wilson, Frank Kimbrough, Greg Gisbert, Kate McGarry, Marcus Rojas, Brian Landrus and Marshall Gilkes performing a wide range of Evans’ work including pieces never heard before. They’ll be debuting selections from the new CD, as well as other rarely performed works from Evans’ catalog – including music from the albums New Bottle Old Wine, Great Jazz Standards, and Individualism of Gil Evans.

While most centennial celebrations involve collections of well-known favorites from the past, producer Ryan Truesdell’s CENTENNIAL: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans brings to light new music from jazz luminary Gil Evans. The CD, to be released by ArtistShare® on May 13, 2012 (www.GilEvansProject.com) and recorded by the Grammy award-winning engineer James Farber, features thirty-five of New York’s top musicians.

Perhaps best-known for co-producing Maria Schneider’s Sky Blue in 2007 and her 2004 Grammy award-winning Concert in the Garden, Truesdell is the first person outside of the Evans family to be granted full access to the musical archives. “I saw thousands of pages of manuscript, and each new box offered up a score or sketch of one of Gil’s pieces that I’ve admired for years.” Truesdell, one of the foremost Evans scholars, began to grasp the significance of the material he was uncovering when he realized many of the manuscripts were unfamiliar to him. Schneider, former assistant and protégé of Evans’, says of Truesdell’s discovery, “It’s like finding the impossible: imagine you buy an old house and discover a box of lost Beethoven manuscripts in the attic—scores that have never been heard before. That’s exactly what’s happened here. It’s been something that I’ve wished for, for decades now—something that so many of us have wanted and it’s here, it’s incredible; it’s an amazing opportunity to hear this music uncovered.” From his first look into the Evans archives, to the release of this remarkable new record, Truesdell’s two-year journey has resulted in the discovery of nearly fifty never-before heard works, which illuminate an as-yet-unheard aspect of Evans’ musical world.

CENTENNIAL features an eclectic but cohesive collection that represents the best of Truesdell’s historic discoveries. Of these ten works, half were originally written for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra, including an Evans original composition, “Dancing on a Great Big Rainbow,” and a striking arrangement of “The Maids of Cadiz” written in 1950, seven years prior to the version for Miles Davis on their landmark collaboration, Miles Ahead. “It’s fascinating to compare the two versions,” Truesdell says of Cadiz. “With the discovery of this arrangement for Thornhill, we can gain new insight into Gil’s original approach to the tune, and how he adapted it for the version we all know with Miles.”

Three of the new works, two of which were originally written for Astrud Gilberto and Lucy Reed, will feature vocalists. On CENTENNIAL, these arrangements are masterfully interpreted by the seasoned voices of Kate McGarry, Luciana Souza, and newcomer, Wendy Gilles, who glides effortlessly over Gil’s intricate arrangement of “Beg Your Pardon,” originally written for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra in 1946.

Kurt Weill’s “Barbara Song” and Evans’ medley, “Waltz/Variation on the Misery/So Long” are arranged for a twenty-four piece orchestra which more closely resembles a wind ensemble than a modern day big band, and is augmented by oboes, bassoons, French horns, and percussion. While both pieces may ring a familiar bell to the veteran Evans listener, these arrangements illuminate a key element in Evans’ compositional process, and present each tune in a whole new light. “It was evident from sifting through Gil’s manuscripts, that he was constantly revising and revamping old arrangements,” Truesdell remarks. “With these two large ensemble arrangements, Gil has greatly expanded upon what we know from the previous recordings, and further developed these pieces in terms of form, harmony, and rhythm. The sonic palette offered by this large instrumentation was like nothing Gil had available to him before. I felt these tunes were essential to presenting this newly discovered world of Gil’s.” Soloists Steve Wilson and Donny McCaslin on saxophone, vibraphonist Joe Locke, and trombonist Marshall Gilkes, add their distinct creative voices to this new sonic world, exploring the endless possibilities revealed in these arrangements.

One of the most exceptional pieces on the record is “Punjab,” another Evans’ original composition, written for his 1964 album The Individualism of Gil Evans. The process of bringing this particular work from the page to the studio provides an excellent example of the research required to assemble this groundbreaking album. The score was incomplete, with no indication of tempo, and very little notation for the rhythm section. “I knew Gil had recorded sketches and an initial reading of “Punjab” during the Individualism sessions,” recalls Truesdell. “Gil had no intention of these performances being commercially released, but I knew they were my only chance to figure out what Gil had intended for the rhythm section.” Assistance from Universal Music made it possible for Truesdell to hear the rehearsal tapes, enabling him to interpret Evans’ intentions, and make the informed decision to add tabla to the track. “There was something about the drums in the rehearsal that didn’t seem to support what Gil had written,” said Truesdell. “I knew “Punjab” had its roots in Indian music, so I decided to add tabla player Dan Weiss to the ensemble and see what happened. I’m glad I trusted my instincts, because the effect was almost transcendent. It was a moment of recognition between the musicians and I, confirming what we had felt all along; that we were all a part of something truly profound.”

With CENTENNIAL, his first CD as a leader, Truesdell has taken on a daunting task, relying heavily upon his encyclopedic knowledge and love of Evans’ music, his discerning ear, and decisive leadership in the studio to breathe new life into a collection of Evans’ works that might otherwise have remained forgotten. This achievement, to say nothing of the remarkable number of first-call musicians more than willing to follow his baton, solidifies Truesdell as an emerging producer and bandleader to watch out for.

OTHER UPCOMING GIL EVANS PROJECT PERFORMANCES:

Saturday, July 7 through Thursday, July 12, 2012

SIX-CONCERT RESIDENCY Umbria Jazz Festival, Perugia, Italy
Featuring Ryan Truesdell with the Eastman School of Music Chamber Jazz Ensemble and special guests, saxophonists Francesco Cafiso, Stefano di Battista, and Scott Robinson, and trumpeters Frabrizio Bosso and Paolo Fresu.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

GIL EVANS PROJECT DEBUT Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, RI
Presenting all new music from CENTENNIAL on the festival main stage.

This story appears courtesy of Braithwaite & Katz Communications.
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