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Newly Reissued CD: Gil Evans Jazz Group Plays Jimi Hendrix - 2002-05-15

The late jazz arranger, pianist and composer Gil Evans was best-known for his groundbreaking recordings with trumpeter Miles Davis, most notably Birth Of The Cool and Miles Ahead. Evans also planned a collaboration with legendary rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, when Hendrix died unexpectedly in 1970.

Instead, Evans recorded an orchestral tribute to Hendrix that was recently re-issued on CD - this landmark jazz album, titled The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays The Music Of Jimi Hendrix.

Gil Evans considered Jimi Hendrix one the era's top musical innovators alongside his idols Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and Lester Young. Evans called Hendrix a "very, very great guitar player." It was no surprise that, without hesitation, Evans accepted an offer to perform a Jimi Hendrix tribute concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The concert took place on June 3, 1974, almost four years after Hendrix died from a drug overdose. The tribute album was recorded 10 days later.

Nineteen musicians comprised the Gil Evans Orchestra on the Jimi Hendrix tribute album. Evans himself plays piano on all eight tracks, including the Hendrix composition "Up From The Skies."

Jimi Hendrix was, as Gil Evans said, a great guitar player, but he was also a prolific composer. He wrote the rock classics "Purple Haze," "Castles Made of Sand," "Foxey Lady" and this Gil Evans Orchestra concert favorite, "Voodoo Chile."

Other noted jazz musicians on the album include saxophonist David Sanborn, guitarist John Abercrombie and trumpeter Lew Soloff. In addition to the eight original tracks from the 1974 sessions, the newly-reissued CD contains alternate takes of "Angel," "Castles Made Of Sand," "Up From The Skies" and "Gyspy Eyes."

Gil Evans continued recording and performing with his Orchestra until his death in 1988. Evans would have celebrated his 90th birthday on May 13. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's birthday, and the 35th anniversary of his electrifying performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.