Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

POP AND JAZZ REVIEWS : Farmer Stays True to 'Music of Evans'

August 02, 1993|BILL KOHLHAASE

NEWPORT BEACH — There was an eerie similarity to the original when trumpeter Art Farmer, appearing Friday at KLON-FM and the Hyatt Newporter's "Music of Gil Evans" tribute, struck the first few notes of "Springsville" from the 1957 Evans-Miles Davis collaboration, "Miles Ahead." It was as if Davis himself had formed the bubbling series of upbeat tones while Evans directed the orchestra behind him.

Playing from charts supplied for the first time by the Evans' estate, Farmer and an ensemble conducted by Mark Masters made it clear that they would be true to the form and spirit of Evans' arrangements. If the authenticity wasn't perfect--the "Miles Ahead" session was subtitled "Miles Davis + 19" while Master's band was only 17 strong--it was close enough to provide more than a few haunting moments.

But this appeal to genuineness worked against Farmer and the orchestra at times. The kind of seemingly misbegotten notes that Davis turned into an art form, more often than not came across as missteps and mistakes in Farmer's hands. The orchestra, playing the difficult arrangements with the benefit of only two brief rehearsals, often seemed tentative and uncertain rather than reflecting the swagger and confidence heard on the "Miles Ahead" date.

*

It wasn't until the second set, when presenting Evans' "Solea" from the "Sketches of Spain" project, that Farmer came alive, using his own romantic lyricism to paint moody colors across the flamenco-styled piece. Farmer also made strong statements on Masters' arrangement of "Priestess," a number played by later editions of the Evans orchestra that didn't include Davis.

Without Farmer, Masters' orchestra made its best statements playing the nine-piece arrangements from the Davis-Evans 1949-50 "Birth of the Cool" sessions, which were provided for the concert by baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, who played in the original sessions. Jack Nimitz did an admirable job filling Mulligan's shoes on the big horn during "Boplicity." Other stand-outs in the ensemble included trumpeter Carl Saunders' involved improvisations and stimulating tenor work from saxophonist Jerry Pinter.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|