[Dixielandjazz] A Big Band Theory
Stephen G Barbone
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Oct 1 10:16:46 PDT 2010
Not specifically OKOM except in its message. What band leader Orrin
Evans does is mix older musicians like veteran jazz trombonist Frank
Ku-umba Lacy with young players. Thus Lacy can pass on his experiences
playing with jazz legends now dead, to the kids. That's a heck of a
lot more effective than pedagogy.
And, of course, those OKOMer among us who went to the Red Sea Jazz
Festival with Tom Wiggins and St Gabriel in 2006 will never forget the
humor and energy of Frank Lacy. Especially when he sat in with us a a
swinging jam session in the hotel garden at 3 AM and helped us with a
swinging rendition of Sweet Georgia Brown. Who says the far out guys
don't play roots jazz too?
To see what Orrin Evans does, visit:
Listen especially to what Lacy is about starting at about the 1 minute
and 5 second mark.
A Big Band Theory: The More Energy the Better
By BEN RATLIFF - NY BTIMES - Oct 1 2010
You’ve heard of the leadership crisis in America? Orrin Evans is not
part of that problem. Running a jazz big band in 2010 involves skill
in composing, arranging, conducting and scheduling; it also involves
nerve, because a big band these days is naturally a kind of statement,
a platform for adventuresome writing or maintaining a tradition. And
it takes strength: musical and physical.
Mr. Evans, a pianist from Philadelphia in his mid-30s, is right for
the job. Even when he performs in a trio or quartet, it can seem as if
more people are needed to absorb his energy. Eighteen people — the
size of his Captain Black Big Band at the Iridium Jazz Club on
Wednesday night — is about right, though his playing could have rung
out over a dozen more.
The band started last October, when it began a series of weekly shows
at Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia, wrapping up in February; it
recorded an album, yet to be released, at the end of the run. In the
process, it used a mixture of local musicians and a few New Yorkers,
including the trombonist Frank Lacy. (Through his various bands, Mr.
Evans has introduced New York audiences to more young or overlooked
Philadelphian jazz musicians than pretty much anyone else in the last
Typically members switched off on various instruments, and Mr. Evans
himself alternated between playing and conducting. During Wednesday’s
show, that workshop or extended-family feeling prevailed. Three
different pianists played in an hour and a quarter. But the music felt
Mr. Evans comes out of a bruising, hard-swinging East-Coast jazz
mainstream that probably started with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers
during the 1950s and crystallized in the 1970s and ’80s: the bright
and dense sound of records from that period by John Hicks, McCoy Tyner
and Bobby Watson. The band’s tunes — on Wednesday, all were by Mr.
Evans except for one, “Conservation,” by Mr. Watson — were sturdy
constructions with continuous interaction from the rhythm players, and
blasting lines from the horn sections; occasionally Mr. Evans, as
conductor, ordered solos and sudden dropouts of all but a few
instruments. It was graceful, hard-edged music, with a several
soloists in particular standing out: the saxophonist Mark Gross, the
bassist Luques Curtis, the trombonist David Gibson and the drummer
Mr. Evans feints and bobs in his playing, splashing down a cluster of
notes, sifting through a series of rich chords, then percussively
scrambling a winnowed-down melodic line à la Thelonious Monk. But he
never hides. He makes his playing jut out and repeat.
Twice, in “Here’s the Captain” and “The Sluice,” he played a small
phrase over and over with one hand while the other proceeded in a more
normal arc of gathering intensity. Both solos felt almost engineered
to wind up the audience and the band; both did.
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