In 1974 and 1975, when the dynamic arranger and bandleader Gil Evans set out to reinterpret the music of rock icon Jimi Hendrix, jazz purists cried foul. What in the world was Miles Davis's brilliant collaborator, a man who'd written songs for Peggy Lee and conducted albums for Kenny Burrell, doing in the teen trash slums? Heard today, on a beautifully remastered Bluebird reissue, Evans's daring project sounds fresh and vital: Hendrix anthems like "Little Wing" and "Gypsy Eyes" retain the martyred guitarist/singer's raw, slithering aggression, despite the radical transformations effected by Evans's complex and urbane big-band arrangements. In the '70s, a tough time for mainstream jazz, many a heretic sought to pay the rent by fusing jazz and rock, but Evans's labor of love continues to serve two great musicians well.
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