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Shortly after graduating college in 1987, I ventured to New York City with the naïve hope of finding a job. It was a miserable time and a memorably awful experience. My hope was to land a job in advertising. 
I ended up with a film pass for a great foreign film from a prestigious film distributor based in NYC that couldn’t hire me and an interview for a position selling ad space for some TV or radio station, knowing full well that’s not what I had in mind. I went back home to Pittsburgh and ended up getting a job later in the Washington, DC, area, where I’ve been ever since. 
While I was in New York that fall – my third time there, actually – I had one hope outside of scoring a job: to see Gil Evans perform live. It was well known that Evans held court on Monday nights at Australian émigré Horst Liepolt’s Greenwich Village eatery Sweet Basil, and I wanted to witness the aging Evans, who was 75 years old at the time, before he could no longer perform.
I had recently discovered the Gil Evans classic Out of the Cool (through MCA’s then-recent 25th anniversary reissue program, worth noting now that Impulse is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year), delighting time and again in the magnificent “La Nevada,” and, of course, knew the great Miles Davis/Gil Evans classics Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain. 
I didn’t really know how different Gil Evans’ music had become all those years later. But I didn’t care. Whatever he was doing, I wanted to hear it.
Sweet Basil was located pretty close to where I was staying, so I walked there one Monday afternoon to find out where the place was located. I found it. But I also saw a handwritten sign in the window saying that Gil Evans was not performing his regular Monday night stints as he was currently “on tour in Europe.” Oh well. Maybe next time.
There was no next time – at least not for me. Gil Evans died on March 20, 1988, only several months later (his 99th birthday falls on May 13).

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