Gary McFarland Orchestra/ Bill Evans (1963) Verve UK

Gary-McFarland-cover-1800-LJCSelection: Misplaced Cowpoke (320kbps mp3)


Phil Woods (clarinet) Spencer Sinatra (alto saxophone, flute) Julian Barber, Allan Goldberg (viola) Aaron Juvelier, Joseph Tekula (cello) Gary McFarland (vibraphone, arranger, conductor) Bill Evans (piano) Jim Hall (guitar) Richard Davis (bass) Ed Shaughnessy (drums) recorded Webster Hall, NYC,  December 18, 1962 – January 24, 1963


Bill Evans at the tail-end of his momentous early ’60s triumphs. The Village Vanguard sessions a distant memory 18 months previously, Scott LaFaro is gone, the start of 1963 finds Evan recording solo sessions for Verve, film medleys with Claus Ogerman’s large orchestra, some West Coast recording then off touring and recording in Europe. Perhaps looking for but not finding a new direction.

This session reunites Evans with Jim Hall, Bill landing on his feet, fitting in swinging with the refinement you might expect of a giant – in slightly reduced circumstances. Phil Woods, Richard Davis, a galaxy of unlikely top calibre names under the unlikely banner of Gary McFarland. Recorded in the run-up to Christmas, A tribute I think to the persuasive powers of Verve’s producer Creed Taylor. McFarland is quite listenable because he is not obviously Milt Jackson, and not quite Bobby Hutcherson. More important, he has around him a galaxy of stars.

Vinyl: Verve  V/V6 8518  The Gary McFarland Orchestra UK  VLP 9042

1st release (1963) mono, EMI pressing 157gm vinyl


Gary-McFarland-back-cover-1800-LJCCollectors Corner

Never mind arguing about Music Matters reissues, this is one of those records never before seen, which I came across sitting in the rack of a central London record store, and asked: “what the heck is this?” Bill Evans? Phil Woods? Gary McFarland the vibes player? What are all these people doing on an EMI  mono UK press, produced by founder of Impulse, Creed Taylor, who moved to head Verve?

The right analogy for this kind of record collecting is beachcomber” (a near relative of crate-digger)  You stroll along the beach and find what kind of debris the sea brought in today. Sometimes its good sometimes not, but it is often interesting. I share the finding with you.

14 thoughts on “Gary McFarland Orchestra/ Bill Evans (1963) Verve UK

  1. All my pocket money from the last couple of months has been used to acquire a copy of the other Gary McFarland recordings that, together with the Bill Evans album, are regarded as his masterpieces;

    • ‘ The October Suite’ with Steve Kuhn (piano) and either a string quartet or a woodwind quartet.
    • ‘America the Beautiful’ (An account of ts disappearance) with a 19 to 22 piece orchestra

    Both are in a darker vein than the gentle, wistful Bill Evans album and will take quite a few hearings to discern all the riches that are hidden within their complex musical structures. To those of you who might be interested to find out more about Gary Mcfarland might I point you in the direction of Doug Payne’s loving biography

  2. My copy has just arrived from a dealer in The Sates and I am loving it. I would say the cover is EX and the vinyl approaching NM. The cost was £21.27 of which almost 60% was for shipping. Although this recording was issued in the UK the only copies I could find were from overseas dealers. American copies are gatefold but if I am not mistaken the UK copies, as the LJC boss man has, are not.

    I don’t think I could recommend this to all the young Blue Note beboppers who frequent this blog and who have an insatiably appetite for yet more and more of those competent blowing sessions that Blue Note churned out by the dozens in there hay day. No, this is fairly gentle yet swinging music. Traditional rhythm section with vibes and – often – clarinets. On some tracks I was reminded of the Benny Goodman sextets. Then there is the occasional appearance of a string quartet which someone referred to as ‘slush’. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good dose of slush. I would say a minimum of 1 per day is essential for a healthy and balanced musical life style.

    There are 6 tracks on this carefully thought-out, refined LP, and apart from ‘Misplaced Cowpoke’ on side 2 I particularly liked ‘Three Patterns’ from side 1. Would the LJC head office consider adding this track to the ‘selection’?

    Today there are a couple of these LPs listed on Ebay UK, both from American sellers and both seem to be in a similar condition to mine. One copy is Mono and will cost you about the same as I paid;

    If you must have a stereo copy then you will be in for an extra 10 quid.

  3. Your curiosity was repaid here LJC. I enjoyed listening to Jim Hall’s guitar solo on the chosen track. I always react with caution when I see Creed Taylor’s name (or fake signature, as later became the case ) on a record sleeve. All too often it means there will be huge syrupy orchestral arrangements (notably on some of Grover Washington Jr’s recordings on Kudu/CTI). Here, that is kept in check, although there’s a little flourish after @ 3 mins 25. I know he set up Impulse before moving to Verve and that he worked with Ray Charles, so I have some limited knowledge of Taylor’s pedigree. Can anybody suggest some listening that could challenge my blinkered viewpoint of his productions?

  4. i really, really like everything i have by gary mcfarland on impulse, and i think i will seek this out. good show, LJC!

  5. Listened to Gary McFarland over the years, always popped him in the “interesting” box. The music here has overtones of film music and music of the “Third Stream” that was around in the sixties championed by the likes of Gunther Schuller and John Lewis. Bill Evans sounds like he’s back home with Jim Hall and the best moments of this recording session come when Evans/Hall/bass & drums lay back and stretch out a bit. McFarland’s time sadly came to an abrupt end in suspicious circumstances in 1971. This recording can be found as an mp3 on the usual digital outlets. I paid £2.99 for the complete 6 tracks – a modest outlay for a nice interesting & cool set.

  6. Interesting to see Spencer Sinatra’s name in the personnel, I can’t remember the last time his name cropped up. When I saw Kenton in my home town in April 1956 he was listed in the program as being on tenor but, along with Jack Nimitz on baritone, he had to go home and their places were taken by Don Rendell and Harry Klein. Harry couldn’t make two of the Kenton gigs so Benny Green stepped in. He became the Observer’s jazz critic and also played with Lord Rockingham’s Eleven in TV’s ‘Oh Boy’, the pioneering British pop show. Benny, like me, couldn’t understand the Revivalist trad movement.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s