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Orrin Evans: Hot Irons In The Fire

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A pianist with great chops, great touch and an attack that fancies many influences from fierce swing to gospel, Orrin Evans is one of the outstanding creative musicians on the New York City scene. His work, no matter what the context--and he loves different contexts--is downright riveting at times. But for the 38-year-old who hails from jny: Philadelphia, jazz, though a pleasure, was a bit of a mystery when he was first experimenting with it. “I didn't know what improvisation was, to be honest. I didn't know what they were doing," when he listened to records, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band: Mother's Touch

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New York-based pianist / composer (and two-time Grammy Award nominee) Orrin Evans served notice with his first big-band album for Posi-Tone Records that there was an impressive new ensemble on the scene, a message that is firmly underscored by the second, the cryptically named Mother's Touch, whose tone and temperament mirror Evans' contemporary point of view. Evans wrote six of the album's nine numbers, the first of which, the gospel-flavored “In My Soul," kick-starts the session with righteous vigor underpinning solos to match by Evans and tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland who switches to soprano for another trenchant ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band: Mother’s Touch

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The studio-versus-stage argument will forever rage on in music, but it really shouldn't. Each setting has its advantages and disadvantages. The jazz community has forever favored the stage, as many feel that jazz is meant to be experienced and created in the moment, with artist(s) feeding off the room and creating here-and-gone sounds. That preference is completely understandable, but the studio has its advantages; clarity, balance, and the right working conditions can often only be found there. The first two releases from pianist Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band both speak in similar fashion, but they're a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band: Mother's Touch

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Nobody does big bands these days. Nobody. Not without institutional support like a university or a foundation. Not unless you are Orrin Evans. The jny: Philadelphia pianist writes and arranges music so appealing, a revolving cast of musicians can't resist playing his music. While we will never see an independent outfit like the Captain Black Big Band, which can swell to thirty plus musicians, touring for months on end, their occasional gigs and recordings are a godsend. The studio recording Mother's Touch follows the self-titled Captain Black Big Band (Positone, 2011) recorded live in various locations in 2010. ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola

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Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band Dizzy's Club Coca Cola New York, NY October 6, 2013 Though the band leader/pianist /composer Sun Ra spoke of being part of an “Angel Race" from Saturn, his music, as avant-garde as it could sometimes be, was for the large part, accessible. One of his lifetime heroes was Duke Ellington, not just for his ability to lead a brilliant orchestra, but also for the melodic purity of his compositions. Ra kept the swing in his big band, despite the fact that he believed his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans: Flip The Script

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Pianist Orrin Evans' last three outings for the Posi-Tone label have been vastly different from one another. He forged new, edgy frontiers as part of the collectively formulated Tarbaby on The End Of Fear (Posi-Tone, 2010), put his own unique stamp on the big band format with the bold Captain Black Big Band (Posi-Tone, 2011), and gave a nod to Philadelphia, the city that formed and nurtured him, on the mostly trio-based Freedom (Posi-Tone, 2011). Flip The Script finds Evans working in trio mode again, but it's not more of the same. Freedom had a mainstream appeal ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans: Flip The Script

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In the wrong hands, the contemporary piano trio can sound like a retread of piano trios since the dawn of popular music. In the right hands it remains a potent force: exciting, engaging, full of imagination and capable of flights of invention. The hands of Orrin Evans are the right hands. The Philadelphia-born pianist is approaching 20 years as a recording artist and, by the sound of Flip The Script, he's in one of his most creative periods to date.Evans' other projects include the Captain Black Big Band--whose eponymous 2011 Posi-Tone debut was a full-on big band blowout--and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans: Freedom

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Philadelphia was a symbol of freedom long before Elton John ever penned his well-known tribute to tennis legend Billy Jean King. The city was a hotspot for American revolutionaries when the British were running the show, and Philadelphia played host to the First Continental Congress and the Second Continental Congress, which signed the Declaration of Independence. This city has come to represent the ideals of freedom within American society, and its rich jazz history is a reflection of the city's past, pointing to all that is right and good with the City of Brotherly Love. Pianist Orrin ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans: Freedom

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Orrin Evans' first three Posi-Tone releases formed a diverse but high-quality trilogy: the piano trio (Faith In Action, 2010); the freer, more left-field small band (Tarbaby's End Of Fear, 2010); and the hard-blowing and exciting big band (Captain Black Big Band, 2011). Hot on their heels comes Freedom, Evans' fourth album in less than two years. The quality remains high. Freedom harks back to the lineup and style of Faith In Action. Evans' home town of Philadelphia looms large, with all of the band and most of the composers hailing from the city. If anything, the album's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans: Faith in Action

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On Faith in Action, his reverent homage to an old boss, saxophonist Bobby Watson, Orrin Evans plays with his heart on his sleeve, gliding right down to his bare fingertips. Here is a pianist who channels masters from Thelonious Monk to Bud Powell and Bill Evans. However, through it all Evans is his own man, a singular voice that combines the precision of a surgeon and the compassion of a saint in an attack on the keys that is so angular and delightful that dancing feet and swaying bodies may never stop moving and grooving. Evans displays a superb ability ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans: Faith In Action

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Ever evolving, keyboardist Orrin Evans continues to develop his personal voice and innovative vision of the jazz piano trio tradition, both in terms of repertory and dynamics. On Faith In Action, the versatile player joins forces with his regular rhythm-section mate from trumpeter Sean Jones' group, bassist Luques Curtis, and fellow TARBABY collaborator, drummer Nasheet Waits. The program is divided equally between compositions by the leader's former employer, saxophonist Bobby Watson, and works from his own Philadelphia household--three originals penned by himself and one each from his wife, vocalist Dawn Warren and their young son, Matthew. Watson's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans: Faith In Action

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Orrin Evans, a Philadelphia jazz pianist with superior blues/bebop prowess, displays his strengths on Faith In Action, a tribute record to saxophonist Bobby Watson.

Back in the 1980s, fueled by the corporate marketing machines, there was a resurgence of classic, mainstream jazz. As the Marsalis family benefitted from this traditionalist resurgence, other players forged their own paths. Such was the story of Watson who, like trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, was an Art Blakey alum, but who eschewed conservatism for a funky, edgier, blues sound. Watson recorded the stellar Italian sessions Appointment In Milano (Red, 1985) and Love Remains (Red, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans: Faith In Action

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Faith In Action is Orrin Evans' first album on Posi-Tone Records and serves to further enhance the reputation of this New York-based pianist. The album is, in part, a tribute to and interpretation of the music of his friend and mentor, saxophonist Bobby Watson, who contributes five of the twelve tunes. It's a fine tribute, indeed, and demonstrates Evans' own talents as a player and interpreter. Evans' own compositions have immediate impact--especially the opening “Don't Call Me Wally," which is driven not only by Evans' hard-hitting piano but by some fine rhythm work from drummer Nasheet Waits ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Orrin Evans: The Trio Live In Jackson, Mississippi

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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 ...



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