How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Saxophonist Bill Evans' new CDTouchsuccessfully manages to create a contemporary sounding program without falling victim to formula or cliche. All of the songs are Evans originals, and they speak well of his talents as a composer; they are more intricate than standard radio fare yet still approachable, resulting in sort of a "thinking person's contemporary jazz." While he's credited as playing both tenor and soprano saxophones on almost all selections, one or the other predominates on each cut. Evans' soprano, thoughtful and almost introspective, weaves interesting legato lead and solo lines through the softer, more probing and inquisitive numbers. In contrast, the tenor features are gutsier and funkier, somewhat akin to the Brecker Brothers.
Evans is ably assisted by a top-notch cadre of studio pros, many of whom are recording artists in their own right. Trumpeter Wallace Roney is excellent as a front-line partner on two tunes. Guitarist Adam Rogers burns on the closing cut, "A Country Mile," which also features Airto-esque vocals from Philip Hamilton. The programmed drum tracks aren't too bad, but the cuts with Vinnie Coliauta behind the kit really smoke. (Zebra ZD 44016)
Tracks:One Wild Ride; In Your Heart; Remembering Those Times; Dixie Hop; Girl by the Sea; Touch; Nashville Cowboys; Little Hands Little Feet; Skippin'; Back to the Wall; A Country Mile. (57:36)
Bill Evans - saxes, keyboards; Wallace Roney, Lew Soloff - trumpet; Conrad Herwig - trombone; Lee Ritenour, Chuck Loeb, Dean Brown, Adam Rogers - guitar; Jim Beard - piano; Henry Hey - keyboards; Vinnie Coliauta, Lionel Cordew - drums; Manolo Badrena - percussion; Victor Bailey, Mark Egan, Tim LeFebvre, Chris Minh Doky - bass; Philip Hamilton, Lani Groves - vocals; Michael Colina, Zach Danziger - drum programming.