Gilberto Gil spent much of the 1970s recording at home in Brazil and had one recording issued in America during that time. His first English-speaking record (which was simply self-titled) was issued by Phillips worldwide and briefly by Paramount in the United States. He signed to WEA International in 1977. This album is the first result of that pairing. Nightingale was recorded in Los Angeles with Sergio Mendes, Alex Acuna, Oscasr Castro Neves, and some crack American studio talent that included Don Gruisin and Michael Sembello.
The second of two Gil Evans LPs originally recorded for the Japanese Trio label and put out in the United States on the now-defunct Black-Hawk company features the veteran arranger leading a 14-piece group at a pair of 1980 concerts. The five selections (which include Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free," Charles Mingus' "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress" and Evans's "Zee Zee") are given colorful treatment by the unique band, which consists of three keyboardists, a rhythm section propelled by drummer Billy Cobham, three trumpets (Lew Soloff, Jon Faddis and Hannibal Marvin Peterson), two trombones (including George Lewis), John Clark on French horn, baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett and altoist Arthur Blythe. Although the end results do not quite live up to the potential of this unique ensemble, there are plenty of colorful moments.
One of arranger Gil Evans's main talents was his ability to fuse diverse, unique performers into a unified ensemble. He accomplishes that on the first of two LPs taken from a pair of 1980 concerts, even if his presence is felt more than heard. Although Evans is on electric piano, he also employed two other synthesizer players (Masabumi Kikuchi and Pete Levin) in his eclectic band, which at the time included such notables as Lew Soloff, Jon Faddis and Hannibal Marvin Peterson on trumpets, altoist Arthur Blythe, trombonist George Lewis, baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett and drummer Billy Cobham, among others. A lengthy "Anita's Dance" and a remake of "Gone, Gone, Gone" are the more memorable selections.
Throughout his four-decades-plus career as one of Brazil's most popular singers, Gilberto Gil has restlessly sought new avenues of expression, from the heady and fiery psychedelic Tropicalia of the '60s to his 2002 album of Bob Marley covers, Kaya N'Gan Daya. But there was one thing Gil had never attempted until now, an album spotlighting nothing but his voice and guitar. Gil Luminoso is, by its very nature, one of the most intimate recordings he has ever made and, not surprisingly, one of the loveliest and most moving.
A leader of the Tropicalia movement in Brazil in 1967 and 1968, along with artists like Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil and other musicians mixed native styles with rock and folk instruments. Because Gil fused samba, salsa, and bossa nova with rock and folk music, he's recognized today as one of the pioneers in world music. A multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, Gil joined his first group, the Desafinados, in the mid-'50s and by the beginning of the '60s was earning a living as a jingle composer. Although known mostly as a guitarist, he also holds his own with drums, trumpet, and accordion.
Perhaps no one in the world outside Jamaica is better equipped to perform a Bob Marley tribute than Gilberto Gil. The two are very nearly equals; Gil meant as much to residents of Brazil as Marley did to Jamaicans – even though popularity in Brazil means competing in a very crowded field. Gil is also an exact contemporary of Marley's (he is three years older, but began recording at the same time) and, like Marley, arrived at a distinctive sound only after years of working in the local vernacular. (For Marley it was ska and rocksteady, while for Gil it was bossa nova and samba.) He does owe a debt of gratitude to Bob Marley, however, for it was Marley's global stardom during the '70s that enabled Gil to begin making an impact overseas (especially in Africa).
Gilberto Gil, recently named as Brazil's minister of culture, has always trodden a very individual path in Brazilian music. But even by his own standards, this is an unusual work. The Zumbi of the title is a Brazilian hero. He founded Palmares Quilombo, a place in Brazil where escaped and freed slaves could live as they had in Africa. Until closed by the Portuguese, Palmares Quilombo lasted almost 100 years. Z is a celebration of the man, conceived as a ballet, celebrating the 300th anniversary of Zumbi. The music here is actually a collaboration between Gil, the great songwriter and musician Carlinhos Brown, and Rodolfo Stroter, who was musical director for the project (however, the album appears under Gil's name).
São João Vivo is the live version of As Canções de Eu Tu Eles, the Brazilian popular music legend Gilberto Gil's fine homage to Luiz Gonzaga and forro. This is basically the same album, though of course recorded live. Compared to the studio album, a few additional tracks have been added. Perhaps the most welcome of those tracks is Anastácia's romantic "Só Quero um Xodó," which Gil recorded with great success in the '70s. Gil also presents a different version of his own "Toda Menina Bahiana," another very fine '70s hit of his. To sum it up, though, São João Vivo is indeed a nice, enjoyable live album, but it is basically unnecessary for anyone who already owns the studio album As Canções de Eu Tu Eles.
Gil Evans released two records on World Pacific in 1958 and 1959. They were among his earliest dates as a leader. Gil Evans & Ten was issued by Prestige in 1957, but these dates stand out more. New Bottle, Old Wine was the first of the pair and the band included four trumpets, a trio of trombones, French horn (played by Julius Watkins), a pair of tubas, Cannonball Adderley as the lone saxophonist, and a rhythm section that included either Philly Joe Jones or Art Blakey on drums, Paul Chambers on bass, and Chuck Wayne on guitar.