Truesdell discovered the 1947 arrangement for "How About You" in the Thornhill archives at Drury University. His search was triggered by his composition teacher Bob Brookmeyer, who said it was his favorite piece from his days in the Thornhill orchestra. Half of the arrangements on "Centennial" date to Evans' formative years with the Thornhill band in the late '40s and early '50s when he experimented with adding instrumental colors such as a flute/piccolo section and introducing classical music influences into large ensemble jazz.
Miles Evans, who now leads the Gil Evans Orchestra, said Truesdell's passion for the music led the family to make him the first person to receive full access to the archives.
"There were a lot of people that wanted an all-access pass to Gil's work, but it turned out to be Ryan because I thought that he had something special within him, and I was right," Miles Evans said in an email. "He did such a great job with the orchestra on 'Centennial.' The sound is so emotional, tight and yet loose."
Truesdell, who co-produced Schneider's Grammy-winning 2007 album "Sky Blue" through ArtistShare, decided to use the fan-funding platform so he could retain artistic control and perform Evans' music "exactly as he intended it to be played." He took the biggest liberty on the Indian-inspired "Punjab" by adding a tabla drum because Evans' score lacked rhythm section parts.
Many of the featured soloists - such as saxophonists Steve Wilson and Donny McCaslin, clarinetist Scott Robinson and pianist Frank Kimbrough - are musicians Truesdell worked with in Schneider's orchestra.
"I wanted musicians who would be very respectful of Gil's music but yet have a modern twist to it," said Truesdell, whose next album will feature his own compositions and arrangements.
Truesdell says at times he was ready to throw in the towel, but Evans' spirit kept him going.
"I brought a picture of Gil conducting in the studio with Miles and taped it on my conductor's podium, so I always had Gil right there," Truesdell said. "You can't play this music live without having Gil present."