Cover image for Gil Evans : out of the cool : his life and music
Gil Evans : out of the cool : his life and music
Stein Crease, Stephanie.
Personal Author:
1 st ed.
Publication Information:
Chicago, IL : A cappella, [2002]

Physical Description:
xv, 384 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML419.E9 S7 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award   The life (1912-1988) and career of Gil Evans paralleled and often foreshadowed the quickly changing world of jazz through the 20th century. Gil Evans: Out of the Cool is the comprehensive biography of a self-taught musician whom colleagues often regarded as a mentor. His innovative work as a composer, arranger, and bandleader--for Miles Davis, with whom he frequently collaborated over the course of four decades, and for his own ensembles--places him alongside Duke Ellington and Aaron Copland as one of the giants of American music. His unflagging creativity galvanized the most prominent jazz musicians in the world, both black and white. This biography traces Evans's early years: his first dance bands in California during the Depression; his life as a studio arranger in Hollywood; and his early work with Claude Thornhill, one of the most unusual bandleaders of the Big Band Era. After settling in New York City in 1946, Evans's basement apartment quickly became a meeting ground for musicians. The discussions that took place there among Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, John Lewis, and others resulted in the "Birth of the Cool" scores for the Miles Davis Nonet and, later on, for Evans's masterpieces with Davis: "Miles Ahead," "Porgy and Bess," and "Sketches of Spain."

Author Notes

Stephanie Stein Crease is a music journalist and recording industry professional in New York City. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, Down Beat, JAZZIZ, and Pulse

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Evans is probably best known in jazz history as the principal arranger behind Miles Davis' big-band recordings in the mid-to late-1950s. Crease brings out the man from behind these seminal jazz recordings as well as offers a sophisticated musical analysis of his arrangements and compositions. She explores his humble beginnings in small-town central California, where as a self-taught musician he became a top regional bandleader and arranger. In a fascinating account of Evans' years as a musician in the army during World War II, when chafing against the strictures of military life, we see he began to resemble a character from Joseph Heller's Catch 22. Perhaps most important are the accounts of the immediate postwar years, when Evans lived in an unfurnished basement apartment near the burgeoning jazz scene near Fifty-second Street in New York City. This humble environment, Crease reveals, is where the thirtysomething Evans gave advice and in turn learned about bebop from the twentysomething young Turks--Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and, of course, Miles Davis. --Ted Leventhal

Publisher's Weekly Review

One of jazz's great musical arrangers and composers the author compares him to Duke Ellington and Aaron Copland Evans is principally known today for his groundbreaking work with trumpeter Miles Davis. In this comprehensive albeit somewhat dry biography, music journalist Crease depicts how Evans's life and career both shaped and were shaped by the changes in jazz. After a hardscrabble upbringing in California, Evans, a self-taught musician, quickly became a top arranger during the big band era of the 1930s. Even during this early period, he showed what was then an unusual trait: an interest in borrowing from other musical genres, principally classical. After World War II, Evans moved to New York City, where he became part of the scene that fueled jazz's postwar boom. Following a brief career downturn in the early 1950s, he rose to some prominence with the well-known and flamboyant Davis. Together, the two pioneered the relaxed, subtle sound of cool jazz referred to in the book's title. Unfortunately for the lay reader, Crease fails to define or explore the elements of cool jazz. She also gives little attention to Evans's personal life, which for a jazz musician of his generation was relatively quiet, though it included a brief breakdown and a divorce from a wife who many believed was alcoholic. There's little doubt that Evans, who died in 1987, deserves wider acclaim; unfortunately, this biography is unlikely to generate it. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Evans (1912-88) was a lavishly gifted jazz arranger whose brilliant collaborations with alto saxophonist Charlie Parker and trumpeter Miles Davis ensure him an enduring fame despite the lingering prejudice of purists who insist that if it's written down, it's not jazz. Until the end of his life, Evans devoted his days and often his nights to searching for new sounds, for it was pure sound not melody or rhythm that had always fascinated him. With the cooperation of Evans's friends and family, journalist Crease carefully chronicles Evans's progress, first as the leader of a highly successful West Coast band, next as an arranger for the Skinnay Ennis band (after Ennis had left Hal Kemp), and then as an arranger for the Claude Thornhill band. Most likely, it was Thornhill who inspired Evans to begin to think in ways that would eventually lead to his innovations in harmony and instrumentation. The author is remarkably skilled at describing music, but readers should still proceed with selections of Evans's music playing in the background. Thankfully, Crease provides a discography that includes CDs by the Gil Evans orchestra and the several monumental productions featuring Davis Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, and Sketches of Spain. Highly recommended, especially since competing biographies are out of print. Harold Cordry, Baldwin, KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Acknowledgmentsp. xi
1. Stocktonp. 1
2. Prince of Swingp. 19
3. Hollywoodp. 46
4. Claude Thornhill--His Band and His Soundp. 71
5. Wartimep. 98
6. 52nd Street Annexp. 124
7. Moon Dreamsp. 146
8. Jambanglep. 180
9. Out of the Coolp. 219
10. Svengalip. 258
11. Sweet Basilp. 298
12. Epilogue (Parabola)p. 325
Notesp. 331
Bibliographyp. 343
Selected Discographyp. 349
Indexp. 375