With Evolution of An Influenced Mind , drummer Donald Edwards makes a piercing statement about his percussiveness and musicality. Having gained attention for his craftsmanship on a number of noteworthy Criss Cross dates-- Introducing Opus 5 (2011) and Orrin Evans's excellent It was Beauty (2013)--Edwards's debut on the prolific Dutch jazz label is a cohesive work of forward thinking music. Dedicated to the memory of the great New Orleans clarinetist Alvin Batiste who mentored Edwards at Southern University in the 1980's the release exudes optimism and a modernist savor, illuminated by a killing ensemble of rising leaders ...read more
In recent years, Donald Edwards has become a familiar name in the Criss Cross catalogue. His drumming can be heard on six previous Criss Cross releases, but on Evolution of an Influenced Mind, Edwards makes his debut as a leader. His sensitive and protean drumming has made him a first-call sideman in New York, but this program focuses on his prowess as a composer; Edwards contributes ten of the eleven tunes, with pianist Orrin Evans leading the eleventh. Evolution of an Influenced Mind seems an appropriate title for this collection of originals. Though Edwards now resides in ...read more
Donald Edwards is one of those drummers that seem to be taken for granted. He's constantly being called upon to support others, shaping moods and grooves on record for everybody from saxophonist Dayna Stephens to trombonist Conrad Herwig to vocalist Carolyn Leonhart, but he's largely avoided being in the spotlight. He's only released two other leader dates in his two-plus decades as a professional drummer, and both records went largely unnoticed. Now, after serving as a sideman on a half dozen Criss Cross sessions, Edwards is stepping out with his own date for the venerable Dutch label. ...read more
Perhaps I’ve become too — what’s the word I want — jaded? Spoiled? Whatever. The fact is that in spite of the complimentary liner notes by Ellis Marsalis, I couldn’t find much to get excited about while listening to drummer Donald Edwards’ debut, In the Vernacular — even with one of the contemporary scene’s shrewdest young trumpeters, Nicholas Payton, helping to stoke the fire. Everyone plays competently enough — although Wessell Anderson’s honking, screeching alto on “Duke of Duckland” is more irksome than impressive — so there’s not much cause for complaint. On the other hand, the sort of freshness ...read more
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