Reviews that mention Gil Evans
October 14, 2013
Julius Watkins (1921-1977)
By Ken Waxman
A stylist whose innovative work in the ‘50s and ‘60s putting the French horn into a jazz context is analogous to what Coleman Hawkins did for the tenor saxophone and Louis Armstrong for the trumpet 30 years earlier, Julius Watkins almost singlehandedly created a viable role for the curved horn during the bop and post-bop eras.
Born in Detroit on October 10, 1921, Watkins began playing the French horn at nine in his school band and continued his studies at that city’s famous Cass Technical High School. Although he also played trumpet during a three year stint in Ernie Fields’ territory band in the mid-‘40s, by the end of the decade he had already recorded on his chosen instrument on sides with drummer Kenny Clarke and vocalist Babs Gonzales and toured as a hornist with pianist Milt Buckner’s band. After studying at the Manhattan School of Music in 1952, he spent the next quarter century in NYC. Within a few years he had recorded a couple of 10-inch LPs for Blue Note, featuring heavyweight such as tenor saxophonists Frank Foster or Hank Mobley, drummers Kenny Clarke or Art Blakey and bassist Oscar Pettiford. MORE
November 24, 2003
STEVE LACY/GIL EVANS
Sunnyside/Owl SSC 3505
Programming a CD of jazz classics can be a mugs game, especially if the compositions have a familiar resonance for many people. Play them too close to the originals and they sounds like imitations; make them too different and they sound like parodies.
This brand-new CD by a Mediterranean trio and a reissued disc by two American jazz masters attempt to overcome the challenge in different fashions. Although impressive, neither is 100 pert cent satisfying. MORE