Listen to the Band
Orrin Evans, Ralph Bowen, Sam Newsome, Duane Eubanks, Reid Anderson & Nasheet Waits
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The title of Evans' fourth Criss Cross album conveys his excitement over a new, steady trio configuration, with Reid Anderson on bass and Nasheet Waits on drums. Joining the pianist and his trio on many of the cuts are trumpeter Duane Eubanks, soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome, and tenor/alto man Ralph Bowen. This group seems to push Evans into freer, more rhythmically adventurous territory, particularly on a strikingly abstract rendition of "I Want to Be Happy" and on Eubanks' "Diva Black," which goes through a series of stirring tempo and feel changes. Most of the remaining material is quite good but not as unusual. One of Evans' frequent colleagues, bassist Darryl Hall, contributes the wonderful, Wayne Shorter-esque "In His Place," while Anderson, one of the best emerging composers in jazz, rounds out the program with the enigmatic ballad "Forgiven." Evans also waxes meditative with a solo piano rendition of "There Is a Quiet Place." The three Evans originals are "Dorm Life," a cut first heard on his 1997 debut Justin Time, along with "For Miles" and the rather stunning "Mat-Matt" — named for his two young sons. There's plenty of substance to these pieces, but one should also turn to Evans' independently released Seed for a more complete picture of his compositional ability. All in all, however, there's superior playing from all involved, and an animating vision that makes Listen to the Band a significant step in Evans' career. ~ David R. Adler, Rovi
Born: Trenton, NJ
Years Active: '90s, '00s