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Exploring Gil Evans’ Out Of The Cool, New Impulse Records Acoustic Sounds 60th Anniversary Reissue

Mark Smotroff gets a kick from that modern jazz…

For those not in the know, it might be useful to consider some of the background on this release by Gil Evans called Out Of The Cool.  First off, no, that is not a typo — Gil is different than Bill Evans who many of you probably have heard of by now. Gil was the acclaimed arranger who helped Miles Davis secure his foothold on mainstream popular music history with the creation of the landmark albums Miles Ahead, Porgy & Bess and Sketches of Spain. Evans’ work with Davis resonates here. 

Evans was an influential talent at the time, so it is not surprising that his album Out Of The Cool would be in the initial run of albums issued by the fledgling Impulse Records label. He delivers the goods in the form of a tour de force large group jazz experience, with an edge that keeps it sounding fresh 60 years on. It probably didn’t hurt that Evans chose some tremendous players for this band including a killer rhythm section of Elvin Jones and Charlie Persip on drums and Ron Carter on bass.

Out Of The Cool is a bit of an audiophile dream, produced by legend-in-the-making Creed Taylor and recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s legendary studio.  Inside the record we get a map showcasing the layout of the instruments, the players and even the microphones used! There are many Telefunkens, Altec, Byers  and even an ElectroVoice for those of you — like me, who geek out on this sort of detail — to dream about… 

Indeed when I first revisited Out Of The Cool for a refresher listen one of the first things we noticed was this incredible sense of soundstage and separation. I say we because — and special thanks go out to him — Ben of Tunnel Records in San Franciso played me the pristine original copy he has in the store. And it sounds huge! 

On the reissue, that spectacular perspective is preserved, from the opening shakers and beautiful cymbal hits of “La Nevada.” Ron Carter’s bass is very much dead center in front of you. The horns are mostly on one side and woodwinds and guitars on the other. It is a wide, near-cinemascopic Stereo mix in that sense, for sure (and much more apparent on vinyl than my 2007 CD reissue, btw)!

Overall, the audio quality is crisp and bright but with a natural richness in the mid ranges and lows. Be sure to listen for those (what I think are) super realistic sounding triangle hits at the end of Side One. I love the tone on Ray Crawford’s electric guitar on some of the tracks.

This fine new edition Out Of The Cool is being released later this month in the first wave of 60th Anniversary reissues from Universal Music’s Impulse Records imprint, crafted under the guidance of the Acoustic Sounds team.  And in keeping with past releases from these folks — and the Blue Note Tone Poet releases for that matter — the results are exemplary.  

The pressing quality is excellent, delivering pretty much everything you could want and expect from a reissue like this: 180-gram, dark black, dead quiet and perfectly centered vinyl. Kudos again to Quality Record Pressing (QRP) for that attention to important details.  

The cover for Out Of The Cool seems virtually identical to the original too, crafted at the Stoughton Printing Company with a nice laminated design. As with the recent reissue of Ray Charles’ Genius + Soul = Jazz  crisp clear artwork makes me think they made this from original production elements. The only real give away that this is a reissue is on the back cover where there is an inevitable and necessary UPC inventorying code. 

Out Of The Cool is another “no brainer” to pick up if you are a fan of Gil Evans, Miles Davis or simply great sounding, modern-leaning orchestral jazz with a strong sense of melody and dynamics.  This one might even be a good demo disc for some of you out there in audiophile land! 

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