Rafi Zabor’s Updoc, Friday 5/23 & Tuesday 5/27

One of the things that happened to me last week is that I started listening to Gil Evans and couldn’t stop—a phenomenon aficionados won’t need explained—and I thought, languidly enough and under the influence, Why not pass the experience along via Updoc—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Manhattan Sunset time. Gil Evans proposed the most credible and enjoyable alternative to the principal big band sound epitomised by Duke Ellington and Count Basie, evincing a lean toward the French impressionist pallettes of Debussy and Ravel, though if you want to parse this construction along black guy/white guy lines you’ll have to deal with Evans’ profound personal feeling for the blues, surely central to his unassailable greatness as a musician. Though seriously, if you bend an ear toward Deb and Rav, Gil sounds almost nothing like them apart from a predilection for pastel gentilesse. In fact, his alchemical voicings of wind intruments owes more to Ellinton and Strayhorn without, however—the best kind of learning—sounding anything like an imitation. Gil Evans loved some certain sounds and he was going to make them, no matter what; so let’s raise a cheer for the courage of a man so laid back we’d think any kind of martial tribute beyond him. After an hour’s worth of Gil, Updoc turns to an Art Blakey drum record featuring 80% of his Messengers plus Roy Haynes, Philly Joe Jones and Ray Barretto, then goes radically un-Gil, since Evans was the antithesis of anything mechanistic, with George Antheil’s Ballet Mecanique, before relapsing into an Evans paradise and taking it out with Frank Sinatra. You could do worse than tune in, so why not try?LargeGil

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