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Gil Evans par Dany Gignoux

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Gil evans

Gil Evans, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

Soft leather moccasins, headband with ethnic motifs retaining his greying hair: when Dany Gignoux follows him in 1987 on his way to an Italian tour with Laurent Cugny's Big Band Lumière, Gil Evans looks like a wise Native American chief. Does the genius arranger know that he only has a few months to live?


In any case, Dany Gignoux’s photographs show a smiling, serene man, focused on his work, his profile backlit like a shadow play or his face surrounded by a mystical halo. As if he were stepping back to let the music speak for itself.

Gil Evans & Laurent Cugny, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

Gil Evans, Milano

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

CHF 775.–


A perfect visual summary of a personality who left a discreet but essential mark on jazz, with his ability to highlight soloists and singers through supremely balanced arrangements and orchestrations.

Gil Evans, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX


Gil Evans was born Ian Ernest Gilmore Green in Toronto (Canada) in 1912, to an unknown father and a mother who scraped by as best she could. He inherits the surname of his stepfather, who worked in the mines.

Gil Evans, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

His childhood was spent in poverty, precariousness and constant moving until 1922, when the family settled in California. In Berkeley, Gil Evans discovers jazz by chance, listening to a Duke Ellington concert. It is such a shock that the young boy decides at once to devote his life to music.

Gil Evans, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

Gil Evans & Laurent Cugny, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX


He starts by transcribing by ear arrangements and solos heard on records. At 17, he leads his first band. An agent spots him, and Gil Evans begins to collaborate with other musicians, notably Claude Thornhill. In 1941, the United States enter the war; the musician, who has meanwhile become an American citizen, is mobilised.

On his return to civilian life, he moves into a small flat on 55th Street in New York, where the finest jazz musicians immediately got into the habit of meeting. It is there that Gil Evans meets Miles Davis for the first time. He writes two arrangements for the trumpeter, who records them in 1949 and 1950 for the album Birth of the Cool.

Gil Evans, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

Gil Evans, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

Gil Evans, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

When Miles signs a contract with Columbia in 1955, he again calls on Gil Evans. Between 1956 and 1962, they produce four albums together that remain the benchmarks of orchestral jazz: Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, Sketches of Spain and Quiet Nights. Gil creates dynamic but transparent arrangements in which the wind instruments of the classical tradition (flute and horns, sometimes oboe and bassoon) create diaphanous colours that highlight the melancholic trumpet of Miles Davis. Each album becomes a critical and commercial triumph.

Gil Evans, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

Gil Evans, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

CHF 630.–

Gil Evans records several albums under his own name, whilst continuing his collaborations, notably with the singer Helen Merrill: her veiled tone is a perfect match for the orchestrator's chiaroscuro arrangements. By the end of the 1960s, he adds electric guitars and keyboards to his palette in order to get a more rock-like colour. In 1970, a collaboration project with Jimi Hendrix is stopped in its tracks by the death of the great guitarist.

In his last years, his reputation keeps on growing: Gil Evans collaborates with David Bowie and Sting, signs orchestrations for film scores (Martin Scorsese's The Colour of Money), tours and records with Laurent Cugny's Big Band Lumière, a young arranger and bandleader whose career he helps to launch. Three months before his death, Gil Evans records his final album, a poignant and stripped-down piano-saxophone duet with Steve Lacy: Paris Blues. He dies in Mexico on 20 March 1988.

Gil Evans, Italy

1987 – Dany GIGNOUX

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