Medley: Castles made of Sand/Foxy Lady
Up from the Skies
1983 – A Merman I Should Turn to Be
Alternative Takes of; Angel, Castles Made of Sand, Up from the Skies and Gypsy Eyes
Gil Evans Orchestra
Recorded 1974 [79:03]
Gil Evans was a huge admirer of the music of Jimi Hendrix – so much so, in fact, that he resolved to collaborate with the guitarist on projects. A meeting
between the two had been arranged for September 1970 but Hendrix overdosed just before his trip to New York and with that impetus obviously faltered. Four
years later, however, Evans returned to Hendrix’s music to record a tribute album with a 19-man orchestra. He presented the music at a Carnegie Hall
concert, part of the New York Jazz Repertory Company’s programming for that year, and took it into the RCA studios the following day.
The band included such heavyweights as guitarist John Abercrombie, trumpeter Marvin Peterson and saxophonists David Sanborn and Billy Harper. The
orchestrations involve a wide range of instrumentation but of the nine songs, only two are definitively Evans’ arrangements. The others were the work of
the band, collectively. This Cherry Red release also includes no fewer than four alternative takes, of Angel, Castles Made of Sand, Up from the Skies, and Gypsy Eyes.
The tracks are studded with fine solo moments. Sanborn takes a great solo on Angel (in both takes, almost equally good) and Crosstown Traffic witnesses one of Peterson’s powerful trumpet workouts and equally strong soul-drenched vocals. Abercrombie, whose role was
difficult and was not promoted as a Hendrix imitator – which would have been crass in the extreme – takes a good solo too. The two-tune medley Castles Made of Sand and Foxy Lady works well, a straight ahead former leading on to the vampy funk of the latter, completed with drum
powerhouse and a free finale.
One of the best moments in the album comes in the subtle Evans voicings of Up from the Skies, its swinging gait allied to inventive colour,
reflective of his high skill quotient. Whereas 1983 and Voodoo Chile perhaps inevitably pay homage to rock-fuelled grooves and funk call
and response. The sectional work on Little Wing is interesting to hear and Peterson takes another good solo. The alternatives bulk out the disc to
an excellent 79 minutes though there’s not much that is startlingly different from the released tracks.
This isn’t essential Evans, and there’s not so much that’s original Evans either, in terms of orchestration. But Evans’ enthusiasm for Hendrix’s music
found a good conduit here and his admirers will appreciate those alternatives and the care taken over remastering.