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Captain Black Big Band: Captain Black Big Band

Mark F. Turner By

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Pianist Orrin Evans has been on a roll, with the release of a couple of diamond Posi-Tone releases in 2010: Faith in Action — dedicated to friend and mentor, saxophonist Bobby Watson—and the old school yet highly progressive thinking of The End of Fear , with Tarbaby trio-mates, drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Eric Revis. But the truth of the matter is that Evans has been an active participant in the game for awhile, with numerous roles (leader, educator, and label owner), and a discography that includes a string of recordings in the '90s on the Dutch Criss Cross label.

The debut of Captain Black Big Band (a nickname of Evans' father, who smoked Captain Black tobacco) is another insight into Evans' repertoire—the aperture of his skills focused even wider, as he leads an humongous ensemble which includes newer flames such saxophonist Tia Fuller and time-weathered veterans like Frank Lacy. Recorded live at the New York's Jazz Gallery, the nearly forty-member band delivers music infused with Evan's contagious melodicism that is colored with the avant-garde, funky blues, and undeniable swing. Doused with Evans' street cred musicality from his stomping grounds in Trenton New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York, the band's sound is imbued with passion and adventurism.

After the announcer's introduction, the band jets off with "Art Of War"—tornadic horns, interlaced arrangements, and shimmering individual spots encouraged by the audience's cat calls and raucous fervor. A big band with attitude, the charts (a mixture of Evans' and other composers) are meaty and spicy, due in part to band's ongoing tenure at the Gallery. From clarinetist Todd Marcus' gospel-tinged "Inheritance," where Michael Walter White's trumpet shouts "hallelujah" in his fine solo, to the lazy groove of Evans' "Easy Now," or the tumultuous "Jena 6," with saxophonist Jaleel Shaw delivering one of the most soulful and searing solos heard in recent memory, Captain Black Big Band is a welcome and surprising debut from the ever-expanding mind of Orrin Evans.

Track Listing: Art Of War; Here's The Captain; Inheritance; Big Jimmy; Captain Black; Easy Now; Jena 6.

Personnel: Orrin Evans: piano; Jim Holton: piano; Neil Podgurski: piano; Luke Brandon: trumpet; Daud EL-Bakara: trumpet; Josh Evans: trumpet; Tatum Greenblatt: trumpet; Leon Jordan Jr.: trumpet; Brian Kilpatrick: trumpet; Curtis Taylor: trumpet; Tim Thompson: trumpet; Jack Walraith: trumpet; Walter White: trumpet; Stafford Hunter: trombone; Frank Lacy: trombone; Joe McDonough: trombon; Ernest Stuart: trombone; Brent White: trombone; Mike Boone: bass (1); Luques Curtis: bass; Mark Przybylowski: bass; Mark Allen: bass clarinet; Todd Marcus: bass clarinet; Donald Edwards: drums (7); Gene Jackson: drums (2, 6); Anwar Marshall: drums; Mark Allen: saxophone; Chelsea Baratz: saxophone; Todd Bashore: saxophone; Ralph Bowen: saxophone; Wade Dean: saxophone: Doug DeHays: saxophone; Wayne Escoffery: saxophone; Tia Fuller: saxophone; Rob Landham: saxophone; Victor North: saxophone; Jaleel Shaw: saxophone; Tim Warfield: saxophone; Darryl Yokley: saxophone.

Title: Captain Black Big Band | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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