||Stephanie Stein Crease's biography of the bandleader and arranger Gil Evans chronicles his peripatetic upbringing in America's Northwest through to his eventual emergence as one of the legendary figures of jazz. Evans emerges as a focused, seemingly ascetic individual who was nevertheless capable of a weekly visit to a whorehouse, and, according to friends, had a penchant for obscene stories. We follow the young Evans's swing-oriented band through early triumphs and mishaps, which, interestingly, often mirror those of contemporary rock groups. After his army service during World War II, Evans moved to New York, renting the legendary 55th Street apartment that was to become a hotbed of jazz innovation, visited by jazz luminaries from Miles Davis to Max Roach, and a vital component in the remarkable BIRTH OF THE COOL album. However, Evans' first genuine break came when he began working with Miles Davis on the epochal album MILES AHEAD. Stein Crease does sterling work in setting Evans' compositions in the context of the development of jazz and in describing the composer's exacting working methods, which were often excessively taxing on his musicians. Evans's chronic lack of business acumen is also discussed, as well as its effect on his family, who, even late in his career, found themselves short of money. OUT OF THE COOL also includes an invaluable selected discography, complete with personnel lists, of many of Evans' recordings from the late '30s to the 1980s.
||Winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award The life (1912–1988) and career of Gil Evans paralleled and often foreshadowed the quickly changing world of jazz through the 20th century. Gil Evans: Out of the Cool is the comprehensive biography of a self-taught musician whom colleagues often regarded as a mentor. His innovative work as a composer, arranger, and bandleader—for Miles Davis, with whom he frequently collaborated over the course of four decades, and for his own ensembles—places him alongside Duke Ellington and Aaron Copland as one of the giants of American music. His unflagging creativity galvanized the most prominent jazz musicians in the world, both black and white. This biography traces Evans's early years: his first dance bands in California during the Depression; his life as a studio arranger in Hollywood; and his early work with Claude Thornhill, one of the most unusual bandleaders of the Big Band Era. After settling in New York City in 1946, Evans's basement apartment quickly became a meeting ground for musicians. The discussions that took place there among Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, and others resulted in the “Birth of the Cool” scores for the Miles Davis Nonet and, later on, for Evans’s masterpieces with Davis: “Miles Ahead,” “Porgy and Bess,” and “Sketches of Spain.”