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Donald Edwards: Evolution of An Influenced Mind

Mark F. Turner By

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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 that includes tenor saxophonist Walter Smith III, guitarist David Gilmore, and unfaltering heavies —Orrin Evans and bassist Eric Revis. A musical reflection of Edwards's experiences can be heard within the eleven tracks found in the drummer's inventive soloing over sampled church voices in "American Drum Call To Mama" or the incendiary tempo in "The Essential Passion" which bubbles with energy.

There's plenty of meat on the bones on every track; heard in the bluesy lament of instruments in Evans's cerebral "When" and a mix of straight ahead funkiness in "Dock's House" which bops and jumps with a hint of reggae. Edwards steps outside the box with an imaginary dialogue between Ornette Coleman and Charles Mingus in the eccentric "Nightmare Of Fun" with alternating melodies. Its split personality shifts between a creeping rock-like groove and heady swing tempo as Gilmore and Smith provide decisive solos before Edwards brings the house down with inventive traps.

Literally from head to toe—Edwards's thoughtful compositions, impressive sticks, clever foot pedal technique and contributions from a top notch band—the Evolution of An Influenced Mind bursts with vigor.

Track Listing: American Drum Call To Mama; History of the Future; Niecee; The Essential Passion; Dock's House; Nightmare of Fun; When; Culmination For Now; Not Really Gumbo; Truth or Consequence

Personnel: Donald Edwards: Drums; Walter Smith III: Tenor Sax; David Gilmore: Guitar; Orrin Evans: Piano; Eric Revis: Bass

Title: Evolution Of An Influenced Mind | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Criss Cross

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