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Critical Jazz coverage for Orrin Evans “Freedom”…

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Jazz without passion is kind of like lite beer. Why bother?


A former editor once advised the necessity to separate the individual from their art in matters of critical review. There are cases however when an artist makes his or her outspoken notoriety as much of their career making the process increasingly difficult. Truth be told the same applies to some critics as well leaving us with a musical push…
Suffice it say to Orrin Evans is an individual of great passion and even greater talent on the the piano bench and Freedom may well be his finest release to date. Displaying a keen sense of history and the sincerity of honoring those that blazed the trail for himself as well as other Philadelphia artists, the aptly title Freedom is not the typical piano trio. Freedom finds Evans paying his musical respects to some Philly greats including Shirley Scott and Mickey Roker and in a slightly more accessible while still adventurous fashion. There is a decidedly more straight ahead swing toFreedom with stunning ballads placed well within the mix to allow for a wonderful ebb and flow to this somewhat personal release. “Dita” is rhythmically punctuated piece reminiscent of some early McCoy Tyner, an engaging work of great depth and harmonic development. Evans solo piano work on the Herbie Hancock classic “Just Enough” begs the question is there a solo piano project on the back burner and if not then why not? The African-rhythms featured on “Oasis” highlight Evans syncopated musical DNA and his affection for dynamic tension with a lyrical sense of purpose. “Hodge Podge” may best highlight the synergy this ensemble can forge while maintaining an incredibly tight cohesion and overall swing.
Freedom is as musically diverse a release as Evans has produced while remaining surprisingly accessible in the face of the more intense work of The Captain Black Big Band which was still garnering critical acclaim whenFreedom was released. While I seldom read other critics, Jazz Times Michael West referred to the overall aesthetic of Freedom as wobbly with nothing to back up his claim. Taste is of course subjective. Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the critical reflection of art, culture and nature. If West was expecting a more cohesive straight ahead trio churning out a dozen of the same standards as every other piano trio then he simply does not understand the recording or never read the press release. The aesthetics make Freedom work. A variety of arrangements and musical subtleties symbolizing the varying influences of individuals that contributed so much in the development of the artist that is Orrin Evans.Freedom  is far from wobbly but instead a wonderful sonic mosaic held together by a gifted artist.

Freedom is as solid and engaging a piano ensemble as you will find. A tremendous addition to any library.


Written by editor

March 20th, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Reviews

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