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Falkner Evans: Level Playing Field (2001)

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One of the pleasures of being allowed to review jazz CDs is the opportunity to get a chance to listen to the debut albums of younger artists with uncommon talents. Such is the case with New York pianist/composer Falkner Evans, transplanted from Oklahoma. You get your kicks from two distinct but related lines. The first is how each newcomer to the piano scene reminds one of the influences of the great performers who shaped how the instrument and the music was to be played. In Evans' case that would include McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans (who among the newer key strikers hasn't he influenced?), Keith Jarrett and Kenny Barron. On the composing side, one hears the magic of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, especially the latter, in his writings. Strayhorn's magic lyricism comes through on such Evans' pieces as "The Way After". More than Evans' compositions are heard on this CD. One of the most surprising and pleasant tracks is the trio's handling of "For Heaven's Sake", which Fran Warren wrung every last particle of emotion from on a 1947 recording with the Claude Thornhill Orchestra. Adding to the attractiveness of the session is the presence of two of the top purveyors of their instruments, Matt Wilson on drums and Cecil McBee on bass. Wilson is one of the more creative modern jazz drummers on today's scene. His work throughout keeps the music moving, throwing out one challenge after another as on "Level Playing Field". The reputation and accomplishments of the versatile and veteran bassist McBee, need no validation This is one of the best piano trios I've heard in a while and is highly recommended.

Learn more about Evans at http://www.metrorecords.com/ evans. html.

Track Listing: So What Do You Mean? (For Taco); Mudan Red; Somewhere; Wash Me Clean; The Way After; I Got It Bad; A Lokey Groove; For Heaven's Sake; Level Playing Field

Personnel: Falkner Evans - Piano; Cecil McBee - Bass; Matt Wilson - Drums

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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