Orrin Evans: Blessed Ones (2002)
If anything, Evans might go just a bit too left of center for some tastes. The opening “Autumn Leaves” bares no resemblance to the original other than the chordal structure. It’s a collective romp that builds to peak intensity before settling down at the end for a vamp and the briefest snippet of a melody. Up next is “Two Faces of Nasheet” and another free form intro subsequently leads to a brisk section where Evans swings like there’s no tomorrow. By this point, you’re ready for the delicate quietude of “Anysha I,” a pretty ballad penned by Philadelphia legend and mentor Trudy Pitts.
Both Pat Metheny’s “Bright Size Life” and Michel Legrand’s “I Will Wait For You” go through radical transformations in the hands of this trio and the virtuosity and telepathic support that exists is something to marvel. Another distinguished elder from Philly, drummer Edgar Bateman, sits in on two numbers and makes a particularly strong showing on “The Inchworm.” Dense and challenging stuff on a whole, but hats off to Evans for taking the music into new and uncharted waters.
Track Listing: Autumn Leaves, Two Faces of Nasheet, Anysha I, Some Other Blues, Blesssed One the Eternal Truth, The Inchworm, Bright Size Life, I Will Wait For You, Anysha II
Personnel: Orrin Evans (piano), Eric Revis (bass), Nasheet Waits (drums), Edgar Bateman (drums on 4 and 6)
Record Label: Criss Cross