Thursday, January 14, 2010

Charles Evans and Neil Shah - Live at Saint Stephens (Hot Cup, 2009)

Baritone saxophonist Charles Evans and pianist Neil Shah make for a stark duo on this live album of improvisations on compositions by Evans. Recorded before friends and former teachers at an acoustically perfect church in Wilkes-Barre, PA, the music is spare and wide open throughout, with both men showing an extraordinary amount of patience. “Junie: Part I The Father, Part II the Friend” opens the performance with a slow paced baritone and piano duo, spacey and wide open, giving the music a sense of deep longing. Spare saxophone and deep yearning piano open “On Tone Yet – Parts I, II, and III” Shah’s piano is well paced, providing a firm foundation for Evans to improvise off of, moving through different colors and shadings of music. He has a thick and strong tone that is compelling to listen to. Percussive piano chording and fog-horn baritone musings take the song out. Spare and abstract music echoes through “Mono Monk” with glimpses of Thelonious’s influence in the angular piano. “An Die Fleigenden Fische” has open and bluesy sounding saxophone and full bodied Jarrett-like piano. “Mother and Others” builds to a medium tempo duet section with the energy slowly ramping up throughout. “What Worked, What Didn’t, What Wouldn’t, What Would’ve” ends the performance with spare and thoughtful duet improve, each musician offering ideas and commentary at a slow and graceful pace. This is an album for late night dreaming, or perhaps a score to a rain drenched film noir of the imagination. There is palpable emotion in the restrained calm of the music on this album. Live at St. Stephens -

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