It’s sad but true: the work done by arrangers of jazz music is very necessary – especially for a large ensemble – but they are caught up in a conflict between the exact notation of the composer and contemporaneously the wishes for free improvisation by the soloists. So often their work is not taken notice of by fans, or is criticised by the musicians, and record companies only pay them badly, if at all. All the more reason then to admire the excellent arrangements for various combinations of instruments, which Gil Evans produced during the course of his career.
"Guitar Forms" with Kenny Burrell as main soloist is a must-have for lovers of soft tones, finely chiselled compositions, guitar fans and friends of Latin Jazz. Just listen to how genially the drums and low-register horns are contrasted with one another, in "Lotus Land" for example, and how the number swings from beginning to end, and Spanish flair is generated. This title and "Greensleeves" are highly recommended to start off listening to this LP.
Also impressive is the line-up of first-class studio musicians who took part in this recording. Although Steve Lacy, Lee Konitz, Richie Kamuca and Jimmy Knepper do not participate as soloists before the microphone, together they produce a rich carpet of sound. Only Kenny Burrell is permitted to distinguish himself – also in three numbers with a small ensemble. When released back in 1965, this LP was not a big seller, probably due to the fact that jazz fans were oriented more towards free jazz. But retrospectively, "Guitar Forms" certainly earns to be put on a par with Gil Evans’s collaborations with Miles Davis.