Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Orrin Evans: #knowingishalfthebattle

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Since the 1990s Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans has carved out a revered career as a band leader, producer, composer, and first and foremost, one helluva jazz pianist. Recorded live at New York's Sear Sound's Studio, #knowingishalfthebattle is his third release on Smoke Sessions with an all-star lineup that includes two other well-known Philly natives, guitarists Kevin Eubanks and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Energy runs through the session through the virtuosic performances of the three headliners as well as the tight young rhythm section of drummer Mark Whitfield Jr. and bassist Luques Curtis admirably holding together the difficult rhythmic changes thrown at them. Add Evans' talented collaborator, singer M'Balia Singley and saxophonist Caleb Wheeler Curtis on few tracks and the set is a nice representation of Evans' music.

Evans' playing is quintessential: sparkling feats of dexterity, artistically mixing a language of jazz, blues, and urban soul in "When Jen Came In" and "Half the Battle" featuring Rosenwinkel's signature sound. Of the many highlights is a zealous rendition of David Bowie's classic "Kooks" where singer Singley contributes the perfect vocals to Bowies' quirky lyrics as Rosenwinkel navigates a serpentine solo.

In contrast to Rosenwinkel's flow, Kevin Eubanks exhibits pure ferocity in a visceral style—blistering chords and white-hot embers pouring from his axe in the soulful "Slife" and the bopping "Calls" a tune colored by a melodic hook and Curtis' searing saxophone. Both guitarists join Evans on "Heavy Hangs the Head That Wears the Crown" a powerful piece where each musician's free playing surges with intensity.

The two variations of the hashed tagged title track that bookend the set were produced by Evans' 18 year old son, Matthew. These short electronica-influenced pieces at first seem out of place with the other tracks but serve as an artistic mantra of Evans' wisdom and openness to new ideas.

Track Listing: #knowingishalfthebattle (Matthew Evans Remix); Calls; When Jen Came In; Chiara; Kooks; You Don't Need a License to Drive; Half the Battle; Heavy Hangs the Head That Wears the Crown; Doc's Holiday; Slife; That's All; Zeni Bea; #knowingishalfthebattle (Snarky) [Matthew Evans Remix].

Personnel: Orrin Evans: piano and Fender Rhodes; Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar (3-5, 7, 8); Kevin Eubanks: guitar (2, 6, 8-10); Caleb Curtis: saxophone and flute (2, 9, 12); M'Balia Singley: vocals (5, 11); Luques Curtis: bass; Mark Whitfield Jr: drums.

Title: #knowingishalfthebattle | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Smoke Sessions Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read The Influencing Machine CD/LP/Track Review The Influencing Machine
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Presence CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Geannine Reid
Published: January 17, 2018
Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read "Essential Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Essential Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 24, 2017
Read "Change Of Address" CD/LP/Track Review Change Of Address
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 6, 2017
Read "Fountain Of Youth" CD/LP/Track Review Fountain Of Youth
by David A. Orthmann
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Journey To The Mountain Of Forever" CD/LP/Track Review Journey To The Mountain Of Forever
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "No Secrets No Lies" CD/LP/Track Review No Secrets No Lies
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Cycles of Animation" CD/LP/Track Review Cycles of Animation
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 11, 2017