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Faith In Action

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 2, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Orrin Evans hits the ground running with "Faith in Action," his first date for Posi-Tone. Listeners are invited to kick back and dig the sounds as Evans bravely embarks on an interpretive exploration of the music of his friend and mentor Bobby Watson. This trio date features the solid harmonic foundation of bassist Luques Curtis and the bombastically explosive metrics of drummer Nasheet Waits. Many jazz fans may already be familiar with Orrin and his earlier work, but now it's all hands on deck as the piano trio steers steadily into the familiar landscapes of the straight ahead concept before heading out beyond into the uncharted depths of modern collective improvisation. "Faith in Action" is the sincere exploration of an forward minded artist seeking to pay respect and homage to the music of a dear friend. Orrin utilizes his visionary talents as a bandleader and musician to uncover the hidden possibilities latent in the compositions and to make a bold and original statement while ultimately remaining true to himself. Whether one is already familiar with the music of Orrin Evans or Bobby Watson, or discovering it for the first time, this session is sure to bring a smile to serious listeners everywhere.

Review

When the jazz pianist Orrin Evans leads a band, there s usually a moment in the middle of a tune when it goes off the rails and into the dirt, and things get interesting. Maybe the drummer breaks away from the song s governing rhythm and does something on the toms; the bassist starts playing agitated repetitions; and Mr. Evans commences some percussive banging or a little sly, perverse repetition or an improvised idea extended beyond the breaking point. He finds a node of tension and makes something bloom from it. Over the last decade, bouncing between Philadelphia and New York, giving energy to both cities jazz scenes, Mr. Evans has poured out music. He has played in a few collective groups and released a lot of work on various labels: Criss Cross, Palmetto and his own, Imani. (The latest from Imani is a DVD called Live All Over the Place, with a handful of bands and 17 musicians.) In his shows and records Mr. Evans likes to encourage the feeling of extended family. But what s good for the jazz scene isn t always good for records, and some of his have seemed distracted, a little blurry. Faith in Action is the corrective. For the most part it s a trio album: Mr. Evans on piano, Luques Curtis on bass, Nasheet Waits on drums. (Rocky Bryant or Gene Jackson replace Mr. Waits for three tracks.) It s partly a valentine to the saxophonist and bandleader Bobby Watson, one of the musicians who defined the sound of New York s straight-ahead jazz in the 1980s and one of Mr. Evans s early mentors; Mr. Watson s tunes make up half the record. Faith in Action is prime East Coast stuff, rigorous and mysterious, arranged but not overly so, the band pushing back against the leader, the leader pushing back against the band. It s tempting to single out how Mr. Waits gradually and fluidly changes his patterns, how responsive he is to the flow of the music. But nearly everything he does is connected to the others moves, and there s a lot of subtlety here as well as aggression. If you like the hard side of Mr. Evans s playing, here you understand it as part of a spectrum. (You can hear it all better too: this is a clean-sounding record.) Some of these tunes are Mr. Evans s best: the rhythm-shifting, questioning-and-answering Don t Call Me Wally ; the highly improvised Two Steppin With Dawn, full of feints and polyrhythm; and the ballad Matthews Song. But the band is operating so well that it personalizes Mr. Watson s tunes, creating pockets of collective improvisation and making authorship an academic point. Which, in the best jazz, it should be. --Ben Ratliff, New York Times 1/31/10

You've got to like the deep lyricism that Orrin Evans puts forth here. The bandleader, composer, pianist, label owner, booking agent, and former Germantown Friends School music teacher looks back to the early years of his career on this trio recording. The set pays rich tribute to alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, who gave Evans an early break when the often-Philly-based pianist was on the rise in the mid-1990s. Half of the 10 tunes are by Watson, including the handsome ballad "Beattitudes." The playing here is magisterial, daring at times and quiet at others. Thelonious Monk clearly influences Evans' puckish moments and clotted chords on the Evans original "Don't Call Me Wally" though Evans is so far his own man that it's a delight. Evans' trio, mostly with bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Nasheet Waits, represents a high point in his work. --Karl Stark, Philly.com

In the promo video below, pianist Orrin Evans performs the first cut from his new album Faith In Action, and the camera ever so slyly captures a picture of Thelonious Monk in the background. The subliminal advertising is undoubtedly intended to suggest that Evans' playing style is inspired by one of the all-time great composer and piano players of jazz. However, the message is made more bluntly by his playing style. The direct way Evans attacks the keys, the playful way his right hand plays a cat and mouse game with the left, and an eccentric portrayal of the blues tradition, Evans effectively evokes the specter of the odd pioneer of modern jazz. And this is just one facet of the ever-expansive range of Evans. Orrin Evans looks and sounds fresh and young, something you might not still expect for someone who---by my best estimate---just last Tuesday released his 10th album. The Philly-raised talent was part of the mini-explosion of straight-ahead jazz musicians who emerged in the 1990s. During this time and into the millennium, Evans learned from luminaries like Kenny Barron, Duane Eubanks and saxophonist Bobby Watson. Faith In Action, in fact, honors his old boss Watson by re-interpreting Watson's tunes, of which fill up half of this ten-song collection. These renderings are not done with saxophone like the originals: Evans sticks with a trio format nearly all the way through, employing the services of Luques Curtis on bass and the ever-ubiquitous Nasheet Waits drums for all but three of the cuts; drummers Rocky Bryant and Gene Jackson fill in for these songs. Having played for Watson for a number of years, Evans was able to identify several Watson compositions that haven't been covered much by others---if at all--but sounds like standards in his hands. The resulting record is brisk, loose-but-not-too-loose and unwaveringly swings. After "Don't Call Me Wally," that Evans original inspired by Monk, the leader dives into three Watson tunes in a row. A fine interpretation of the title song is highlighted by Evans' solo being closely traced by Waits' tom-tom work. "Wheel Within A Wheel" was a favorite of Art Blakey when Watson served as the musical director in Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the late seventies-early eighties. This waltzing number gets going with a brief but tasteful solo from Bryant, then some equally graceful playing from Evans, who pours on the passion but never overplays the song. Curtis follows up with a Latin-inspired solo, accentuated by palmas (handclaps). A highlight for all three players. For "Appointment In Milano," Evans lays down some muscular McCoy Tyner chord voicings before he stretches his hard bop almost all the way to out territory. His rapport with Waits on the ending breakdown section is telepathic as well as scorching. Curtis contributes some discreet bass lines that bolster Evans' own piano lines on the introspective "Matthew's Song." Watson's "Beattitudes" is a display of Evans' expressive playing in a solo setting. After three more quality selections by Evans and Watson, the set concludes with "Why Not," a song first recorded on Watson's Live And Learn album (2002) but composed by Evans' wife Dawn Warren. It's an elegant composition that is firmly anchored by a walking bass and shaped by a singing melody. As for the filler songs in this album, well, there aren't any. Orrin Evans locates the under appreciated beauty in Bobby Watson's compositions and throws in some of his own that are clearly inspired by his former mentor. Remarked Watson, "Orrin owns this music now. If no one else ever records my music again in my lifetime, I am truly blessed to have had Orrin take my music to places I never imagined, and make it his own." --Pico, somethingelsereviews.com

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Product details

  • Audio CD (February 2, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Posi-Tone Records
  • ASIN: B0034KA1KM
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #421,771 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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