Big band with a twist. That’s the nature of the Gil Evans Project album, Lines of Color (Blue Note/Artist Share, 2015).
Conducted by Ryan Truesdell, the orchestra is comprised of woodwinds: Jesse Han, Jessica Aura Taskov, Steve Kenyon, Steve Wilson, Dave Pietro, Donny McCaslin, Scott Robinson, Brian Landrus, Tom Christensen and Alden Banta; French horns: Adam Unsworth and David Peel; trumpets: Augie Haas, Greg Gisbert and Mat Jodrell; trombones: Ryan Keberle and Marshall Gilkes; bass trombone: George Flynn; tuba: Marcus Rojas; guitar: James Chirillo; piano: Frank Kimbrough; bass: Jay Anderson; drums: Lewis Nash; voice: Wendy Gilles; and viola: Lois Martin.
“Time of the Barracudas” has a deceptive opening. Soft sounds, led by the flutes, it has a slight symphonic edge. The other horns come in, with Gilke taking lead. The mood shifts to a moderate, cheerful sound. Gradually, the piece picks up energy behind the throaty trombone. McCaslin follows on tenor, going through several mood changes as he takes the instrument to its depths, then brings is it back to mid-range with a few high notes sprinkled in. The pace shifts from up-tempo to easygoing to near frantic. The band goes silent while Nash gives the kit a brief workout, before the song reverts to its symphonic beginnings.