Personnel: Gil Evans (acoustic & electric pianos); Chris Hunter (alto saxophone); George Adams (tenor saxophone); Lew Soloff, Hannibal Marvin Peterson, Shunzo Ohno, Miles Evans (trumpet); Tom Malone (trombone); Howard Johnson (tuba, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet); Pete Levin (synthesizer); Hiram Bullock (guitar); Mark Egan (bass); Adam Nussbaum (drums); Mino Cinelu (percussion).
Producers: Horst Liepolt, Shigeyuki Kawashima.
Recorded live at Sweet Basil, New York, New York on August 20 & 27, 1984. Includes liner notes by Stephanie Stein and Robert P. Crease.
During the last years of composer/arranger/pianist Gil Evans's life, he and his orchestra (which usually numbered around 14 members) played a regular Monday night gig at New York City's Sweet Basil jazz club. In the manner of Charles Mingus's jazz workshops, these sets became ground for fertile experimentation. Though, for many people, Evans is inextricably linked to sophisticated, classically based jazz arrangements (his immortal Miles Davis collaborations on PORGY AND BESS and SKETCHES OF SPAIN are cases in point), his Monday Night Orchestra sessions were something altogether different.
Evans's charts are as exacting as ever here, but the influence of post-bop and free jazz is keenly felt. Wild improvisation, shuttering polyrhythms, changing meters, and the presence of synthesizer and electric guitar announce right away that this is not the buttoned-down, string-sweetened Evans that old-school fans might expect. The repertoire, too, which includes compositions by Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Charlie Parker, and Jimi Hendrix, is decidedly modern. This should come as no surprise, however. Evans was always progressive, pushing the envelope of form, color, and texture in all of his projects. This 1984 recording, made just a few years before his death, testifies to Evans's formidable, adventurous legacy.