The Trio Live In Jackson, Mississippi
Orrin Evans | Imani (2006)
By Edward Zucker
TAKEN FROM "ALL ABOUT JAZZ"
Orrin Evans has recorded for the Criss Cross and Palmetto labels, but he always seems to venture back to Imani Records, his own label. This is where Evans convenes his musicians and material of choice, whether working with his “funk-fusion-R&B-electric band” Luvpark, in a piano trio setting, or with a larger acoustic group, as on Live at Widener University (Imani, 2005). This independent streak has resulted in Evans failing to receive the public acclaim he is due, but it has allowed him to control his own creative destiny.
On The Trio Live, Evans treads in familiar water by revisiting the piano trio format, this time in a live setting, where he can stretch out and display his unique and original voice on piano. For this outing Evans has chosen to work with his excellent long-time collaborator Byron Landham (drums) and Madison Rast (bass). The recording features six tracks, four Evans originals plus with “Autumn Leaves” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Evans has tackled several of the tracks previously, but they are given new life on this live release.
Each member of the band is allotted their respective moments in the spotlight on this album. Rast does an excellent job of holding down the bottom end and imparts gorgeous feel and tone to slower tunes, most notably the ballad “Libra.” Landham, who is best known as Joey DeFrancesco's drummer, proves to be in perfect sympathy with Evans. His sense of time is unerring, he is capable of delivering bone-crunching bombs along with the most delicate brush work, and he provides kinetic spontaneity to the proceedings.
Seeing Evans live is a true event. His sheer joy cannot be contained. At the piano, sometimes standing while he plays, he claps, dances, cheers, prods and cajoles the band and audience equally. This release is the next best thing to seeing him in person. Clocking in at slightly over 75 minutes and with no tune less than eight minutes, there is not a bad note on the CD.
This live recording features:
Orrin Evans - Piano
Madison Rast - Bass
Byron Landham - Drums
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Peace & Blessings!
Also, check out the website: www.imanirecords.com for a schedule of appearances!
TAKEN FROM THE LINER NOTES, WRITTEN BY WILLARD JENKINS.
From the moment I first laid ears on Orrin Evans he's been bookmarked in the brain as one of the most distinctive voices of his generation. First evidence was his 1996 debut recording Justin Time (Criss Cross), then came his marvelous performance as a finalist at the 1999 edition of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition at the Kennedy Center.
Since those initial sightings and sideman roles the collective impressions of Orrin Evans have grown exponentially. Records by the explosive drummer Ralph Peterson, and the jazz-meets-hip-hop questiong trumpeter Russell gunn, have continued to attest to Evans' growing prowess. Ask Marian McPartland, who successfully engaged Orrin for one of her hallmark Piano Jazz radio series installments; or the Mingus Big Band, with whom Evans has been working and touring. Orrin Evans is happening', and you hold the latest evidence of that salient point in your hands.
The piano is hardly Orrin Evans sole expression of that prowess. A true self-starter and modern day jazz renaissance man, rather than wait around for some elusive 'deal', Orrin has taken matters into his own hands. Along with his talented wife Dawn Warren, he has not only recorded for the Criss Cross and Palmetto labels, he has also forged his own imprimatur, Imani Records. Though this current disc falls squarely in acoustic jazz piano trio land, Evans' broad mindedness has manifested itself also in the number and colors of his various ensembles. These have also included such kinetic and boundary-defying ensembles as Seed and LUVPARK, the latter also featuring vocals (Dawn Warren included).
This latest disc represents another distinctive new chapter in Orrin Evans' artistry. Recorded Live @Millsaps, a concert venue in Jackson Mississippi whose physical space and audience he found extremely agreeable, Evans was so taken with the results of the audiophile recording quality of this date and the way his band responded to the music and the circumstances that he has chosen to release it as an uninterrupted, running concert. Asked about that recently, he said "I've always enjoyed listening to records to their completion, but today with the wonders of the internet more listeners are creating 'playlists', or CD's which include their favorite selections by various artists. I hope recording this record in a non-traditional way will encourage the listener to enjoy the record in its entirety, thus giving them the live concert experience in whatever listening environment they choose. "Imani has actually recorded four live records," Evans continued, "but this is only the second one to be released."
The musicians rounding out the trio - and believe it, this is indeed a band, not leader and anonymous sidemen - are two of Orrin's favorites, including Philly homeboy Byron Landham and Madison Rast on bass. "Byron has been a member of my trio for the last 10 years. He's the most melodic drummer out here today, and his solos are full of the original melody; he solos like a horn." Rast, a recent convert to Philly life, has played with such Philadelphia stalwarts as drummer Mickey roker and tenor man Bootsie Barnes. "He is a solid bassist with a wonderful sense of harmony, not to mention he can swing!" Evans enthused.
Willard Jenkings is a journalist-broadcaster whose contributions can be read in Down Beat and Jazz Times magazines, and Black Voices weekly among other publications; heard on WPFW 89.3FM in Washington, DC and seen on BET jazz. Visit him on the web at www.openskyjazz.com