The Mother of the Book is a startlingly original collaboration between Canadian composer/multi-instrumentalist Glen Hall and legendary jazz arranger/composer Gil Evans. It is being re-issued in digital form in 2012 to mark the centennial of Gil's birth. Gil delayed a well-paying project with Sting to orchestrate Glen's compositions. Glen offered Gil something no else did: a chance to NOT revisit the music his storied past with artists like Miles Davis and Claude Thornhill, but instead to go on a musical adventure like none of his previous work. The chance to work with one of the world's foremost percussion groups, NEXUS, world renown and deeply revered Indian classical music mrdangam virtuoso, Trichy Sankaran, 2 synthesists, and an intriguing front line of horns (flute/bass flute; trumpet; bassoon/contrabassoon; English horn; tenor/soprano saxophone/bass clarinet), electric bass and drums.
The music begins with "Kikue", a piece inspired by a Japanese dancer (Glen's wife). Exotic, full of the rich sonorities Gil is justifiably famous for, the music unwinds slowly, gradually building in intensity, to a climax with chorus after chorus of dramatic trumpet soloing. "Old Woman River" was composed to embody Glen's deep love and respect for the 'river' of women who have enriched his life (grandmothers; mother; wife and daughters). It features the evocative, mysterious sound of the bass flute. "The Mother of the Book" is a deeply mystical setting for Indian percussion - mrdangam and tabla - in a daunting 19/4 time signature. The piece sounds, as Gil noted at the recording session, "ceremonial". It's central theme is the unfolding in time of the source of all spiritual revelation. "The Folk" is a celebration full of exuberant exclamations and rhythmic interplay, the whole orchestra interacts, improvising, conversing, and having lots of fun making music together. The last piece is a multi-part suite, a post-modern montage of images rooted in the blues, all brought together by Glen and Gil's favourite blues musician, Muddy Waters. The piece includes musical portraits of harmonica player Little Walter, bassist Willie Dixon, as pianist Otis Spann as well as scenes from the Chicago blues 'landscape' that inspired both Glen and Gil.
It took Glen an incredible 9 1/2 years to get the recording released. "The Mother of the Book" exists only as an impossibly hard to get Siberian pressing of the CD. So, it took fellow Gil Evans' devotee, composer/arranger Ryan Truesdell, to suggest doing something to commemorate Gil's 100th birthday. Here is the re-release of the evocative "The Mother of the Book". This shows Gil Evans' late career creativity at its adventurous best.
1. Kikue (Hall - soprano sax; Tureski - vibes; Sankaran - mrdangam; Sanborn - trumpet)
2. Old Woman River (Amaro - bass flute)
3. The Mother of the Book (Umm-ul-Kitab) * (Becker - tabla; Sankaran - mrdangam)
4. The Folk (ensemble)
5. Muddy Waters (Little Walter; Lakeshore Theme; Willie D.; Otis; Whisper from Theresa's;
Walkin' Up Halsted) (Hall - tenor sax; Piltch - bass; Tureski - vibes; Clarke - drums)
All compositions by Glen Hall. Arranged by Gil Evans (*arranged by Glen Hall and Gil Evans).
- Personnel - Glen Hall - tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet
- Gil Evans - arranger, conductor, electric piano
- NEXUS (Bob Becker, Robin Engelman, Russell Hartenberger, John Wyre) - percussion
- Eugene Amaro - flute, bass flute
- Lawrence Cherney - english horn
- Terry Clarke - drums
- Stacy Hersch - synthesizer
- Bob Murphy - synthesizer
- David Piltch - electric bass
- Harvey Saltzman - bassoon, contrabassoon
- Chase Sanborn - trumpet
- Trichy Sankaran - mrdangam
- Trevor Tureski - vibes
- Recorded February 23-24, 1985, Studio 4S, Toronto.
- Engineer - David Dobbs
- Producers - Glen Hall, Bill Garrett
- Executive Producer - Glen Hall
- Mastered by George Graves and Scott Murley
Since I first saw his band in New York in 1971, I dreamed of making music with Gil Evans. He was a combination of insightful artist, consummate craftsman, and creative adventurer. When I met him in 1973, he was friendly, helpful and open; he even invited me to stay at his apartment to study scores. I felt an immediate rapport with Gil, and when, after many twists and turns of fate, I finally set up a situation that would allow me to work with him, it wasn't at all the "master-disciple" relationship one might expect. Instead Gil treated me a respected colleague and co-creator. For instance, many reviewers have commented on the Gil-like instrumentation of the recording. In fact, Gil agreed to do the project in part because I had already selected the instrumental palette (bass flute, bassoon, trumpet, saxes/bass clarinet (me), seven percussionists including Indian drum master Trichy Sankaran, two synthesizers, electric bass and electric piano)-one he had never used before: it was the challenge of the new that captured his interest. When we worked on my piece "The Mother of the Book", he made one suggestion-"Use a trumpet here"-and that was it until the rehearsals (that Gil thought my piece was good enough as it stood was the highest compliment I have ever received). When working together, I thought he would take the reins and shape the arrangements according to his lights. On the contrary, he insisted I contribute ideas, some of which we used, some we discarded. At one point he said, "You know what you want. Tell me." His simple remark changed my life. That he trusted my creativity meant that I could trust it too. That was Gil's legacy to me.