Sketches Of Gil

A three part series telling the story of one of the most important composers, arrangers and bandleaders in modern jazz, Gil Evans.

"I don't play jazz music" Gil once said, "I play popular music: the music of the times".

Looking back over a career that spanned six decades, it's clear to see Gil never stood still but continued to make vibrant, imaginative music throughout.

A self-taught pianist, Gil helped revolutionise the sound of the big band in the 1940's through his work with the Claude Thornhill orchestra.

After a key meeting with Miles Davis, he then masterminded the sessions now known as "The Birth of the Cool" and went on to record a series of classic collaborations including "Miles Ahead", "Porgy and Bess" and "Sketches of Spain".

Always on a quest for new musical colours, his latter day big band embraced electronics readily and even recorded an album of Jimi Hendrix songs.

'Sketches of Gil' is presented by saxophonist and Evans collaborator David Sanborn and features exclusive interviews with the following Evans alumni: Lee Konitz, Gunther Schuller, Wayne Shorter, Creed Taylor, Howard Johnson, Billie Harper, Anita Evans and Maria Schneider.

Plus there will be archive interview material of Gil Evans himself.

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Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
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JF01The Birth Of The Cool2004091120051126

A three part series telling the story of one of the most important composers, arrangers and bandleaders in modern jazz, Gil Evans.

"I don't play jazz music" Gil once said, "I play popular music: the music of the times".

Looking back over a career that spanned six decades, it's clear to see Gil never stood still but continued to make vibrant, imaginative music throughout.

A self-taught pianist, Gil helped revolutionise the sound of the big band in the 1940's through his work with the Claude Thornhill orchestra.

After a key meeting with Miles Davis, he then masterminded the sessions now known as "The Birth of the Cool" and went on to record a series of classic collaborations including "Miles Ahead", "Porgy and Bess" and "Sketches of Spain".

Always on a quest for new musical colours, his latter day big band embraced electronics readily and even recorded an album of Jimi Hendrix songs.

'Sketches of Gil' is presented by saxophonist and Evans collaborator David Sanborn and features exclusive interviews with the following Evans alumni: Lee Konitz, Gunther Schuller, Wayne Shorter, Creed Taylor, Howard Johnson, Billie Harper, Anita Evans and Maria Schneider.

Plus there will be archive interview material of Gil Evans himself.The first programme examines Gil's early years and shows what you get when you cross an obsession with Louis Armstrong with a close study of Ravel, and then add bebop.

JF02Miles Ahead2004091820051203

In episode two we focus on Gil's work with Miles Davis.

With the help of composer and Gil Evans protege Maria Schneider we read between the staves on classic big band recordings like Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain.

We also learn that for a jazz pianist with no formal training, conducting a 19-piece orchestra is no simple task.

JF03 LASTSvengali2004092520051210

Part three looks at the work Gil did in the early 1970s with his electric big band, achieving his trademark rich soundscape using synths and electric guitars where he'd previously used expanded brass sections.

His open attitude and willingness to take risks made his orchestra one of the most popular amongst musicians at the time.

Gil continued leading his orchestra well into his 70s, with a songbook that referenced artists as diverse as Charlie Parker, Jimi Hendrix and Sting.