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Mike Gibbs + Twelve - Mike Gibbs + Twelve play Gil Evans Rating: 4 out of 5 Immaculately arranged, played and recorded this is an album that combines intelligence and loveliness in equal measure and is highly recommended.

Mike Gibbs + Twelve

“Play Gil Evans”

(Whirlwind Recordings WR4639)

I was recently asked to contribute “The Guest Spot” feature in the August/September 2013 edition of Jazz UK magazine. My piece included a brief review of this recent recording by Mike Gibbs and I reproduce this below;

“One of the highlights of the 2013 Cheltenham Jazz Festival was the performance by the Mike Gibbs Ensemble celebrating the centenary of the birth of the great composer and arranger Gil Evans. That same ensemble, now simply dubbed Twelve, graces this recording of Gibbs’ adaptations of Evans’ arrangements of pieces by a variety of composers from W C Handy and Kurt Weill to Ornette Coleman and Carla Bley. There’s also Evans’ own “Las Vegas Tango” plus three Gibbs originals.
The ensemble textures and colours are as rich and distinctive as one would expect on pieces bearing the thumb prints of such accomplished arrangers as Evans and Gibbs. Under Gibbs’ subtle direction the ensemble of UK based musicians is also given the room to contribute a series of memorable solos. Featured soloists include Julian Siegel, Finn Peters and Lluis Mather (reeds), Robbie Robson, Percy Pursglove and Joe Auckland (trumpets), Mark Nightingale (trombone), Jim Rattigan (French horn), Hans Koller (piano), Jeff Williams (drums) and Whirlwind founder Michael Janisch (double bass). Sarah Williams on bass trombone and tuba completes the Twelve. It’s arguable that there are too many “tribute” albums on the market but this classy and quietly adventurous recording stands out from the pack.”

Regular readers of this website know that I like to put a little more flesh on the bones in my reviews and indeed it’s the attention to detail that many people seem to enjoy about The Jazzmann. So here’s a little bit more information about this recording and a look at the individual tracks.

This celebration of Gil Evans’ centenary was first conceived by Gibbs and Hans Koller and received its first public performance in Birmingham where Koller is a tutor on the jazz course at the city’s Conservatoire. The album was recorded in a single day in late 2012 by engineer Alex Bonney at Fishmarket Studios in London immediately after the ensemble had played a successful two day residency at The Vortex in Dalston. It’s a tribute to Gibbs’ arranging and conducting skills plus the abilities of an outstanding group of musicians that the album sounds as good as it does given the time restraints involved in its creation.

The majority of the tracks are Evans’ original arrangements adapted by Gibbs specifically for this twelve piece ensemble. The opening piece is one such example, the ensemble’s version of Kurt Weill’s “Bilbao Song” which builds slowly via an intelligent, imaginative and strikingly atmospheric Janisch bass solo. Subtle horn voicings and Williams delicately understated drum colourations also distinguish the arrangement with Koller’s piano helping to hold it all together.

The pianist features more prominently on Evans’ own “Las Vegas Tango”, one of Gil’s most memorable and enduring compositions. The blend of the horns is rich and sonorous with carefully measured solo contributions from Nightingale on trombone, Siegel on tenor sax and Janisch at the bass. Nightingale, who I normally hear in more mainstream contexts, sounds particularly good here.

It’s Gibbs’ arrangement that graces Carla Bley’s “Ida Lupino” which incorporates more fine ensemble playing plus solos from Lluis Mather on tenor sax and Koller at the piano. It’s an impressive statement from young Mather, a recent graduate from the Birmingham Conservatoire. His involvement with Twelve represents a significant career move for this talented young musician.

“Feelings & Things” is the first of two Gibbs originals to appear on the album. It’s a sublimely lyrical piece enhanced by a beautiful contribution by Jim Rattigan, one of the few musicians capable of producing convincing jazz solos on the French horn. The other soloist is the versatile Julian Siegel who probes gently but incisively on soprano sax.

Horace Silver’s hard bop classic “Sister Sadie” loses nothing of its essential joyousness with the Gil Evans arrangement incorporating lively solos from Robbie Robson on trumpet, Koller at the piano,  Mark Nightingale on trombone and Jeff Williams at the drums. As ever there’s some terrific ensemble playing too.

Robson is also the featured soloist on Evans’ arrangement of Rodgers & Hart’s “Spring Is Here”, this time demonstrating his ballad playing skills against a typically sumptuous backdrop of brass ans woodwind.

Gibbs’ arrangement of Ornette Coleman’s “Ramblin’” brings two new faces to the fore as alto saxophonist Finn Peters and trumpeter Joe Auckland deliver sharply intelligent solos alongside further features for Koller and Janisch. The bassist, in conjunction with Jeff Williams, also provides incredible rhythmic drive throughout the piece.

Peters and Janisch also feature on Evans’ arrangement of W.C. Handy’s immortal “St. Louis’ Blues”, the altoist in particularly creative mood as he solos at length.

The Gibbs original “Tennis, Anyone?” has been in his repertoire for many years. The arrangement here is a good deal more sombre than the jokey title might suggest with lush horns cushioning a quietly querulous trumpet solo from Percy Pursglove and a lyrical, gently bluesy piano statement from Koller.

The atmosphere is sustained on the closing piece, Evans’ arrangement of Rodger’s & Hart’s “Wait Till You See Her” with Siegel’s gently ululating soprano and Williams’ subtle and distinctive hand drumming.

Immaculately arranged, played and recorded this is an album that combines intelligence and loveliness in equal measure and is highly recommended.   
   

     

Mike Gibbs + Twelve play Gil Evans

Mike Gibbs + Twelve

Monday, September 09, 2013

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

4 out of 5

Mike Gibbs + Twelve play Gil Evans

Immaculately arranged, played and recorded this is an album that combines intelligence and loveliness in equal measure and is highly recommended.

Mike Gibbs + Twelve

“Play Gil Evans”

(Whirlwind Recordings WR4639)

I was recently asked to contribute “The Guest Spot” feature in the August/September 2013 edition of Jazz UK magazine. My piece included a brief review of this recent recording by Mike Gibbs and I reproduce this below;

“One of the highlights of the 2013 Cheltenham Jazz Festival was the performance by the Mike Gibbs Ensemble celebrating the centenary of the birth of the great composer and arranger Gil Evans. That same ensemble, now simply dubbed Twelve, graces this recording of Gibbs’ adaptations of Evans’ arrangements of pieces by a variety of composers from W C Handy and Kurt Weill to Ornette Coleman and Carla Bley. There’s also Evans’ own “Las Vegas Tango” plus three Gibbs originals.
The ensemble textures and colours are as rich and distinctive as one would expect on pieces bearing the thumb prints of such accomplished arrangers as Evans and Gibbs. Under Gibbs’ subtle direction the ensemble of UK based musicians is also given the room to contribute a series of memorable solos. Featured soloists include Julian Siegel, Finn Peters and Lluis Mather (reeds), Robbie Robson, Percy Pursglove and Joe Auckland (trumpets), Mark Nightingale (trombone), Jim Rattigan (French horn), Hans Koller (piano), Jeff Williams (drums) and Whirlwind founder Michael Janisch (double bass). Sarah Williams on bass trombone and tuba completes the Twelve. It’s arguable that there are too many “tribute” albums on the market but this classy and quietly adventurous recording stands out from the pack.”

Regular readers of this website know that I like to put a little more flesh on the bones in my reviews and indeed it’s the attention to detail that many people seem to enjoy about The Jazzmann. So here’s a little bit more information about this recording and a look at the individual tracks.

This celebration of Gil Evans’ centenary was first conceived by Gibbs and Hans Koller and received its first public performance in Birmingham where Koller is a tutor on the jazz course at the city’s Conservatoire. The album was recorded in a single day in late 2012 by engineer Alex Bonney at Fishmarket Studios in London immediately after the ensemble had played a successful two day residency at The Vortex in Dalston. It’s a tribute to Gibbs’ arranging and conducting skills plus the abilities of an outstanding group of musicians that the album sounds as good as it does given the time restraints involved in its creation.

The majority of the tracks are Evans’ original arrangements adapted by Gibbs specifically for this twelve piece ensemble. The opening piece is one such example, the ensemble’s version of Kurt Weill’s “Bilbao Song” which builds slowly via an intelligent, imaginative and strikingly atmospheric Janisch bass solo. Subtle horn voicings and Williams delicately understated drum colourations also distinguish the arrangement with Koller’s piano helping to hold it all together.

The pianist features more prominently on Evans’ own “Las Vegas Tango”, one of Gil’s most memorable and enduring compositions. The blend of the horns is rich and sonorous with carefully measured solo contributions from Nightingale on trombone, Siegel on tenor sax and Janisch at the bass. Nightingale, who I normally hear in more mainstream contexts, sounds particularly good here.

It’s Gibbs’ arrangement that graces Carla Bley’s “Ida Lupino” which incorporates more fine ensemble playing plus solos from Lluis Mather on tenor sax and Koller at the piano. It’s an impressive statement from young Mather, a recent graduate from the Birmingham Conservatoire. His involvement with Twelve represents a significant career move for this talented young musician.

“Feelings & Things” is the first of two Gibbs originals to appear on the album. It’s a sublimely lyrical piece enhanced by a beautiful contribution by Jim Rattigan, one of the few musicians capable of producing convincing jazz solos on the French horn. The other soloist is the versatile Julian Siegel who probes gently but incisively on soprano sax.

Horace Silver’s hard bop classic “Sister Sadie” loses nothing of its essential joyousness with the Gil Evans arrangement incorporating lively solos from Robbie Robson on trumpet, Koller at the piano,  Mark Nightingale on trombone and Jeff Williams at the drums. As ever there’s some terrific ensemble playing too.

Robson is also the featured soloist on Evans’ arrangement of Rodgers & Hart’s “Spring Is Here”, this time demonstrating his ballad playing skills against a typically sumptuous backdrop of brass ans woodwind.

Gibbs’ arrangement of Ornette Coleman’s “Ramblin’” brings two new faces to the fore as alto saxophonist Finn Peters and trumpeter Joe Auckland deliver sharply intelligent solos alongside further features for Koller and Janisch. The bassist, in conjunction with Jeff Williams, also provides incredible rhythmic drive throughout the piece.

Peters and Janisch also feature on Evans’ arrangement of W.C. Handy’s immortal “St. Louis’ Blues”, the altoist in particularly creative mood as he solos at length.

The Gibbs original “Tennis, Anyone?” has been in his repertoire for many years. The arrangement here is a good deal more sombre than the jokey title might suggest with lush horns cushioning a quietly querulous trumpet solo from Percy Pursglove and a lyrical, gently bluesy piano statement from Koller.

The atmosphere is sustained on the closing piece, Evans’ arrangement of Rodger’s & Hart’s “Wait Till You See Her” with Siegel’s gently ululating soprano and Williams’ subtle and distinctive hand drumming.

Immaculately arranged, played and recorded this is an album that combines intelligence and loveliness in equal measure and is highly recommended.   
   

     


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