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Inside the Band, by Mike Downes

Humber music welcomed Ryan Truesdell as Composer in Residence from Oct. 17th to 19th 2012.

Truesdell is an acclaimed composer and producer who recently headed up the Gil Evans Centennial Project. The project resulted in the recording Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans, which has since, deservedly, received one Grammy Award two additional nominations.

2012 marked the centenary of Gil Evans’s birth. Since Evans was born in Toronto, it was fitting that Humber honour his great contributions to jazz with a feature concert of his music. Additionally, Ryan Truesdell was the perfect choice to conduct the Humber Faculty Band for the feature concert and to lead discussions and clinics focusing on Evans’s music.

In both the clinics and the concert, Truesdell inspired students and faculty alike with his thorough knowledge of Evans’s work. Truesdell was personable, insightful and oozed enthusiasm. And the concert featured some of Evans’s best-known work, spanning his time with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra to his own recordings (Gil Evans and Ten, Out of the Cool, The Individualism of Gil Evans), to, of course, the famous Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaborations Miles Ahead and Porgy and Bess.

Having studied and listened to the music of Gil Evans for many years, it was a dream come true for me to be able to perform this music and hear it from inside the band. In particular, I was struck by the level of detail contained within the written parts. Evans did not leave much to chance, yet the music feels both open and unconstrained. His orchestrations are rich, unique and unmistakably "Gil." This is timeless music that sounds as beautiful and compelling today as it must have to those listeners who first encountered it years ago.

The Composer in Residence event was yet another example of the remarkable vision of the Humber music program. Hats off to Denny Christianson for bringing the event together and for rehearsing the band beforehand. Ryan Truesdell and all of the outstanding musicians involved made the evening concert one of the most memorable for me.