Ryan Truesdell: The Gil Evans Project
AAJ: About yourself as a person, tell us what you do beyond music, and also about your spirituality and how you seek ultimate meaning in life, keeping in mind John Coltrane's statement: "Music is my spirit."
RT: For me, I've always been very emotionally attached to music, and I view that as spiritual. Now that I'm getting the chance to perform Gil's music, I'm realizing that Gil had this extra spiritual sense in his music as well. Here we are performing this music that was written more than half a century ago, and it still rings true and connects with audiences. I think a big part of that is that there is life within his music.
There is a human aspect to his music. When you perform it, there is a raw emotion embedded in the music, and you can feel it uniting the musicians and the audience, and people are affected by it. There's weight to his music. It may not be religious as such, but there is a humanistic spirit in this music that we can all learn from.
AAJ: From Miles Davis' autobiography, one gets the feeling that Gil Evans was a loving and caring man, and he came through for Miles during the latter's bouts with drugs and mental breakdown.
RT: Anita, Gil's wife, told me that he had this kind of mysticism about him. He would enter a room, and everything would stop. Brookmeyer told me that Gil would stop in at the Village Vanguard, and he and George Russell would sit in the back and listen. Bob said the feeling was as if royalty had walked into the room. Gil had this magical sixth sense that drew people to him. People really loved him. And this same magical, mystical quality comes through in his music.
AAJ: Which probably inspired the musicians to come through for him. The feeling of ensemble, of the collective, is amazing in his recorded work. One final question: what do you want to do in the next couple of years besides the Gil Evans Project?
RT: I want to continue to write my own music and have my own band. I'd like to do some touring, both with my own and Gil's music. I love working with great musicians. I've been very fortunate to work alongside amazing musicians like Maria Schneider and Bob Brookmeyer. I love a wide variety of music and all the different personalities of musicians I've met, and look forward to all the adventures and new sounds that await me in the future.
Bob Brookmeyer, Bob Brookmeyer with the NDR Big Band (NDR Radio Broadcast, 2010) (producer)
Todd Coolman, Perfect Strangers (ArtistShare, 2008) (composer)
Maria Schneider, Sky Blue (ArtistShare, 2007) (producer)
Maria Schneider, Concert in the Garden (ArtistShare, 2004) (production assistance)
Page 1 (Truesdell): Dina Regine
Page 2: Darcy James Argue
Page 4: Dina Regine
All Other Photos: Courtesy of the Gil Evans Centennial Project Archives