I am by any measure a huge fan of Gil Evans. Heck, I even like his collaboration with Miles on Quiet Nights, let alone the sublime lyrical heights of Porgy and Bess and the dynamite explosions of Miles Ahead.
But this is my favourite. Evans' constant search for new phrasings and sounds puts many people off, it can be like a squirt of lime on a cut lip sometimes, and his embracing of ensemble improvisation can lead to what is best described as "informal" rhythmic structures. Yet on this album, the stretching out of the pieces, the lolloping gait of the tempo, the discordant phrasing, all come together to produce a kind of sleazy late-night glamour that is like nothing else.
If you're new to Jazz, I envy your new-eared induction to this wonderful world, but this may not be the best place to start. If you're a few years into your journey and are ready to up the ante a little and try a bit of the hard stuff, then this is (for me) Evans' most complete work. It's not at all inaccessible; it has pretty tunes as well as moments of grandeur, but this is the sound of exploration and surprise. It's an austere St Estephe that reveals its subtle charms to those that open their ears and minds rather than an easy glugging Merlot that neither offends nor delights anyone. Late night music with a bitter-sweet twist.