Monday, November 16, 2009

Charles Evans - King of All Instruments (Hot Cup, 2009)

Baritone saxophonist Charles Evans is a native of the great jazz city of Philadelphia where he grew up before moving to New York influenced by his mentor, saxophonist and composer Dave Liebman. After gigging around Manhattan and Brooklyn for several years and forming his own label, he has taken the rather audacious step of recording a solo album of overdubbed baritone saxophone. When I read about this album in Downbeat, I was intrigued, especially after I saw the rare five star review this album was given. It reminds me a little bit of the Rahsaan Roland Kirk album Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata which was also mostly solo and overdubbed. Evans extensive use of overdubbing to achieve a new orchestral effect is fascinating, he can lay down tuba like bass lines or drones and then after setting those down, go back and improvise melodic statement and then go back again and improvise upon them. If your knowledge of the baritone saxophone in jazz is based on the (admittedly wonderful) swing and bop based music of Gerry Mulligan and Nick Brignola, you may be in for quite a surprise with this album. Evans gets a wide range of sounds, drawing not just upon jazz but on classical and avant garde musics to develop a unique soundscape. The way I found most enjoyable to listen to this album, was not to try to analyze it too deeply but, to drift along with the waves of sounds and melodies created by the multi-overdubbed baritone onslaught. Riding the wave of multi layered music was a very interesting experience, as Evans explores the length and breadth of his instrument and the possibilities of what it can do.
The King of All Instruments - amazon.com

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