WBGO Radar

Orrin Evans: The Evolution Of Oneself

orrin evans

Pianist Orrin Evans has many times demonstrated he's one of today's outstanding musicians. His inspirations that attract us are traditions that evolve in the moment. It's the truth that the improviser uses to speak. Orrin's vehicles have been solo, trio, his envelope-pushing group Tar Baby or Captain Black Big Band. 

With his new release, "The Evolution of Oneself," this Philly native uses the nucleus of a trio setting with extraordinary bassist Christian McBride and masterful timekeeper Karriem Riggins, a first time for these three recording together, although they've made music in different settings over the years.

As Orrin says, "everything is composed for or about people in my life." For his son Miles Tsagli, there's "For Miles" and "Tsagli's Lean." Both are up-tempo numbers  showing  both Evans' skill and the fluidity of these three fliers.

Evans's son Mathew contributes three "Genesis Interludes" to this studio event which Orrin says "is no different than a cookout on a Saturday night."

The Kern/Hammerstein classic " All the Things You Are" gets two expressions, with the last a nice feature for McBrides bass and the vocals of singer JD Walter. Evans picked this one for his wife, Dawn. The lyric, he says, "is all the things she is."

The inclusion of "Autumn Leaves" evolves from former Evans' outings and his early days at jam sessions in Philly. This new approach leaves nothing behind as the trio puts on a spirited funky dance.

Guitarist Marvin Sewell joins the trio for a nice approach to Grover Washington, Jr's "A Secret Place" and the Carter family's "Wildwood Flower," a country gem introduced to Orrin by drummer Matt Wilson. Surprise, an Evans constant, is alive here as improvisation and country melody make a gorgeous gift.

There are 18 tunes on "The Evolution of Oneself," which comes out September 11 from Smoke Sessions.

Evans celebrates the release with his trio at Smoke September 10 - 13, with special guests Steve Wilson (9/10), JD Walter (9/11), Paul Bollenback (9/12) and Antonio Hart (9/13).

  - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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