GIL EVANS — Out of the Cool

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GIL EVANS - Out of the Cool cover
4.44 | 6 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1961


A1 La Nevada 15:33
A2 Where Flamingos Fly 5:11
B1 Bilbao Song 4:10
B2 Stratusphunk 8:00
B3 Sunken Treasure 4:15


Bass – Ron Carter
Bassoon, Flute, Flute [Piccolo] – Bob Tricarico
Drums – Elvin Jones
Guitar – Ray Crawford
Percussion – Charlie Persip
Saxophone – Budd Johnson
Saxophone, Flute, Flute [Piccolo] – Eddie Caine (tracks: A2, B2, B3), Ray Beckenstein (tracks: A1, B1)
Trombone – Jimmy Knepper, Keg Johnson
Trombone [Bass] – Tony Studd
Trumpet – Johnny Coles, Phil Sunkel
Tuba – Bill Barber

About this release

Impulse! ‎– AS-4 (US)

Recorded 18th November and 15th December 1960

Thanks to kazuhiro for the addition and snobb for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

After three very successful albums with Miles Davis, Gil Evans set out on his own again and came up with this excellent set of groovy orchestrations called “Out of the Cool”. Unlike many other big band arrangers, Gil Evans does not try to literally blow you away with screaming horn ensemble passages and other sorts of fireworks, instead, subtlety and an almost effortless nonchalance are all a big part of what makes Evans’ music unique and attractive. Evan’s orchestrations sound like no one else, the tendency towards smeared murkiness and weird undercurrents may sometimes recall Ellington or Sun Ra, but other than that, there are not many others to compare against. A few years before "Out of the Cool" came out, the young Quincy Jones had emerged with a new big band sound that was bright, crisp and featured razor sharp ensemble playing, Evan’s more quirky, laid back and personally odd approach made for an interesting contrast to all that.

“Out of the Cool” opens with “La Nevada”, which is basically a long modal jam session on which Evans mostly stays out of the way while the soloists play excellent solos in a very relaxed and personal style that reflects the Evan’s approach. After this lengthy workout, the first side closes with the ballad “Where Flamingos Fly”, which is nicely played by trombonist Jimmy Knepper while Evans constantly shifts the harmonic and rhythmic background in subtle ways. Side two opens with Kurt Weil’s “Bilbao”, on which bassist Ron Carter carries much of the melody while being surrounded by horn dissonances that hang in the air while odd home-made percussion rumbles in the background. This side continues with one of those George Russell experimental numbers that combine modern concert hall structures with walking blues. While the soloists dig into the blues, the rhythm section keeps shifting in and out of double time and sometimes the bass is replaced with a walking trombone. The album closes with an Evan’s original, “Sunken Treasure”, which has Johnny Coles playing a trumpet solo over what sounds like a closing theme from a movie. You could see a piece like this having a big influence on Henry Threadgill.

Gil Evans is a tough artist to write about, its hard to explain why his orchestrations sound like no one else, you’ll just have to listen for yourself. One of the biggest compliments I could pay this album is that this music still sounds very modern today, and will probably continue to sound that way for a long time. Fans of modern orchestration from a jazz viewpoint will definitely want to get this.

Members reviews

Sean Trane
Obviously, this is the pendant of the Into The Hot, but we’re definitely in a different class of album altogether, a totally different beast. You’d have expected the OOTC album to be recapitulative résumé, and the Into The Hot album to be the groundbreaking new start, but actually, it’s quite the opposite. One of the key ingredients to this album’s success is the presence of Mingus’ usual suspect Jim Knepper on trombone, and Ron Carter’s excellent presence on the contrabass. With a cool artwork (for the times), and produced by future label owner Creed Taylor, OOTC is certainly of two landmarks in Evans’ non-Miles career.

Opening on the awesome 15-mins+ La Nevada piece, you just know that Evans left the cool and the bop to venture into much more adventurous songwriting. Indeed, in the first minute, the electric guitar and the electric piano ostinato (we’re in 61, dude!!), pulsing like an electronic beat give you a good idea that the album is anything but “standard” jazz. As a matter of fact, with this track, Evans might just be further ahead than Mingus’ seminal Black Saint album, as there are some obvious similarities between Charles and Gil’s songwriting, and you can find an obvious hint of this in the low-brass instruments’ arrangements. Awesome stuff, really!! The following slow-starting moody and broody Where Flamingos Fly is a great piece that could be easily translated in a classical music format.

On the flipside, the bigger-band-styled Bilbao Song is very Mingus-ian in the low-brass arrangements and Carter’s slow but inevitable bass, again with the trombone (4 of them) and tuba section led by Knepper’s science, often put to work for Charles; the song being a bit reminiscent of Gil-Miles’ Spanish Sketches (and far away from the usual Ellington-big-band-type of composition) but unfortunately it ends in a fishtail. The following Stratusphunk is another low-brass and bass dominated tune filled with bonhomie and medium goofiness, despite Coles’ excellent trumpet and Crawford’s cool guitar solos. The closing Sunken Treasure is another deep, slow, moody, broody and dramatic Evans composition that takes its time to develops, but unfortunately it could’ve been at least three minutes longer. Awesome arrangements once more. It’s a bit of a downer that the remastered version judged useful to add a happy and semi-boppy Sister Sadie that kind of ruins’ the album’s cohesiveness.

Strangely enough, there would be an almost three-year silence after a very busy 61, until the Individualism album would finally show up in the racks. Funny how people cursed and threatened of Judas the good old Miles for going electric, but nobody ever said a word about Crazy-Canuck Gil Evans’ electric piano or electric guitar in the present album a few years sooner. Anyway, Out Of The Cool might just claim a top-5 all-time post-bop spot, alongside SoS, KoB, ALS and BS&tLS, battling it out with Brubeck’s Time Out; so you’d better run for this album while it’s still available as a disc. No wonder this album was released on the always adventurous label Impulse!

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