Thursday, July 14, 2011

Orrin Evans – Freedom (Posi-Tone, 2011)

Pianist and composer Orrin Evans has been on quite a roll lately, leading his own groups and then co-leading progressive groups like The Captain Black Big Band and Tarbaby, both of which were featured at recent jazz festivals and received acclaim by both fans and press alike. Riding this increasing crest of fame, he releases a very accessible album featuring his trio of Dwayne Burno on bass and Byron Landham and Anwar Marshall splitting drumming duties. Larry McKenna sits in on tenor saxophone for a few tracks. After opening with a classy trio piece called “One for Honor,” McKenna joins the group for “Gray's Ferry” with his saxophone entering in a mellow and patient fashion, building the music to medium tempo hard bop jazz with a well constructed solo. There is a spacious trio interlude on “Shades of Green” where the light music accommodates a drum feature over soft piano accompaniment. McKenna returns on “Time After Time,” crafting a nice swinging tenor solo, which builds pace with good solid accompaniment especially from the rock-like bass. A strong trio is interlude in included with agile bass and drums trading off ideas. Dark, urgent piano opens “Hodge Podge” building to a fast dynamic trio section before Evans’ piano trades thoughts with the drummer, leading to a spacious drum solo. A light touch on piano leads the group into “Oasis” which has warm and accessible playing. The music builds deeply to a strong rhythmic pulse led by great drumming, which bookends a mellower section at the beginning and end. The album concludes with two strong performances, “As Is,” which moves from spritely piano to strong robust trio improvisation, and “Just Enough” which features Evans solo, playing spare and open reveling in the open and spacious feel. Freedom -

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