Über Gil Evans
Canadian-born, but raised in California's agricultural Central Valley, Gil Evans' tonal colors are unique with an eerie, disquieting quality. His laid-back charts for Claude Thornhill in the '40s helped lay the foundation for Cool jazz, and his apartment was a meeting place for like-minded moderns such as Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis, and John Lewis. They all got together on the classic Birth of the Cool LP. That Miles Davis album was a popular bust but was hugely influential and Evans went on to record three stunning albums with Davis in the late '50s and he started recording his own big band throughout this period. His solo albums and collaborations with Kenny Burrell and Astrud Gilberto in the '60s are equally impressive and carry his unmistakable sound. Evans got into electronics and continued experimenting in the '70s, but most of this later work lacks focus (excluding his surprisingly good tribute to Jimi Hendrix in '74).