Out of the Cool  is a Verve/Acoustic Sounds Series "Must Have"

"La Nevada" means "snowfall" but the opening track of this Gil Evans classic begins as a musical desert mirage of a distant train that approaches slowly, with you sitting on the tracks directly in its path. As the train gets closer (and louder) the repeated simple four bar riff grows in intensity adding growling, snarling brass and reeds drivers by Ron Carter's and Elvin Jones's insistent yet slinky rhythmic drive. Aside from the trombone section's part being notated, the performance is improvised, a highlight being Ray Crawford's guitar searing the left channel behind which trombone locomotive horns warn you to get out of the way, but by then it's too late and the music runs you over!

This 1961 album, only the fourth on the newly hatched Impulse! label, was Evans' first effort after his wildly successful series of Miles Davis collaborations that included Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and the ethereal Sketches of Spain. Eight years later Davis would produce In a Silent Way, which this album pointed towards at the beginning of the decade.

The album is worth getting for the 15 minutes of "La Nevada" alone but the rest is equally great including the cinematic side closer "Where Flamingoes Fly". I remember playing the Alto Analogue edition from 1997 on a big rig at an audio show and when "La Nevada" ended Lampizator's Lukasz Fikus came running to the front of the room looking as if a train had just run him over (it had!) asking "what was that???"

Side two features a magnificent brass drenched rendition of the Brecht-Weill composition "Bilbao Song" followed by a mischievous rendering of George Russell's "Stratusphunk". The trombone growing from just to the right of the left speaker should sound as if it's in your room, if your set up is working great and Gil Evans' piano should alarm just to the right of center. If you dig this track and picked up the great Verve/Acoustic Sounds reissue of George Russell's New York, N.Y., you'll definitely want to secure a copy of Russell's Stratus Phunk (Riverside 9341) and so the collecting chain goes!

The sonics here with a cut from the master tape by Ryan K. Smith (yes, the master tape— I have a current photo that for some reason I can't share with you) are incredibly transparent, spacious and flat-out thrilling (but the sonic picture looks nothing like the inner gatefold graphics) and somewhat brighter and less mid-band rich than the long out of print Alto-Analogue edition Bernie Grundman cut in 1997. Both are worth having for different sonic reasons and if you have a clean original Rudy Van Gelder cut (A-4) you may think you are set, but that cut is less spacious, somewhat dynamically compressed, has the RVG lower bass roll-off and is definitely less transparent—not that it's bad and some people do like the more "in your face" excitement. This one's here now though! Do not miss it!

Music Direct Buy It Now

Michael Fremer's picture
and thinking my problem is I pay too much attention to the music.
Marty65's picture

Hi Michael have you noticed any distortion on Where Flamingos Fly on your copy, or is it a pressing issue?

Leonthepro's picture

the answer to your question is clearly stated.

CAD66's picture

Bought this sound unheard but WOW. Not only great music but an amazing recording. The music is clearly out of Mancini.