Join our mailing list

Alex Rodriguez takes on Orrin Evans “Flip the Script”…

leave a comment


Two new CDs out by contemporary jazz leaders Branford Marsalis (below) andOrrin Evans (left) offer a pair of unique takes on what it means to swing in the 21st century. Both are assertive, interactive, and powerful statements, but it’s what makes them different that I find particularly fascinating.

Flip the Script is passionate and thoughtful, pointing the way towards how jazz can sound fresh even with more than a century of tradition to draw upon. Unlike Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, Evans in compelling in a variety of sonic contexts, whether the medium-tempo Monk-inspired opener “Question,” the rapid-fire title track, or even his genuine solo piano rendition of “The Sound of Philadelphia” — the theme from Soul Train — in which Evans transforms the jaunty disco track into a heartfelt elegy to the show’s recently-departed producer Don Cornelius:

Although Evans is also well-known for his uncompromising positions on controversial topics in the jazz community, his music speaks just fine for itself. This due in part to his great rapport with this group, a trio that includes bassist Ben Wolfe and drummer Donald Edwards. Their spontaneous web of polyrhythms is elastic and unpredictable, yet holds a strong foundation for Evans’s right-hand melodies. And Justin Faulkner — the Marsalis Quartet’s impressive young prodigy — could stand to learn a thing or two from Edward’s sharp, driving cymbal sound. The record is also very well-produced, a clear result of his affiliation with Posi-tone’s fearless leader Marc Free. The longest track, a spaciously re-harmonized rendition of “Someday My Prince Will Come,” clocks in at just over six minutes, and the whole album feels purposeful, without any wandering moments of low energy. All together, it is one of the more cohesive articulations of creative sincerity that has come across my desk recently.

Both CDs are a reminder that straight-ahead, gimmick-free jazz at the highest level — whether you like it burning, hard-swinging, or both — is not a figment of American history. The artists behind both projects owe plenty to their musical forebearers, yet each has his own compelling take on how that deep well of musical knowledge can sound today.



Written by editor

August 31st, 2012 at 6:58 am

Posted in Reviews

Tagged with ,