By Frank Alkyer | Published March 2015
Ryan Truesdell burst onto the international jazz scene in 2012 with the release of Centennial: Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans. As one of the most gifted young arrangers and composers of his generation, Truesdell is also a certified Evans-aholic. In searching for original Evans manuscripts, Truesdell unearthed some 50 of the master’s never-before-heard compositions and arrangements. Ten of them made their way onto Centennial, and the results had critics and fans abuzz. With Lines Of Color, Truesdell presents another round of great, new material with a few Evans classics mixed in. Recorded live during a weeklong stint at New York’s Jazz Standard, this set of 11 tunes brings this music to life in a way that Evans would certainly appreciate. This album offers the beauty of hearing a large ensemble playing together in the same room. There’s an energy that the musicians and the audience bring to the proceedings that adds to the charm and complexity of this music. The set features six never-recorded works. The strongest of these is a terrific arrangement of “Avalon Town” from 1946. It’s great to hear the nuance and detail that Evans puts into the arrangement, right down to the horn section shouts. Truesdell delivers the music with precision, thanks to a cast of New York’s best musicians. “Avalon Town” alone features great solos by pianist Frank Kimbrough, trumpeter Mat Jodrell, Steve Wilson on clarinet, Scott Robinson on tenor, Dave Pietro on alto, Ryan Keberle on trombone and James Chirillo on guitar. Along with the six “new” arrangements, Truesdell also uses the platform to include arrangements with previously unheard sections like Bix Beiderbecke’s “Davenport Blues” and “Sunday Drivin’.” And he rightly includes three of Gil’s most enduring tunes. “Time Of The Barracudas,” a tune Evans and Miles Davis wrote for Miles’ Quiet Nights, leads off this set with roof-raising solos by Marshall Gilkes on trombone, Donny McCaslin on tenor and Lewis Nash on drums. Gilkes also delivers the goods on Evans’ arrangement of “Greensleeves.” And the arrangement of John Lewis’ “Concorde” swings with sophisticated grace and unleashed power. That can be said of the entire program. Lines Of Color is nothing short of exhilarating.