Orrin Evans "...It was beauty"
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Symmetry, elegance and a consistency in form and function may only touch on the beauty in music, abstract terminology as taste is subjective. I don't like Orrin Evans as a person, I admire his prolific talent as a musician. A former editor once advised the importance of keeping your personal feelings separate from the perspective of a critical review. This time he may actually be right but allow me to explain so that this piece can hopefully be taken at face value on context and not on what some may think they are reading.
I gave the last Posi-Tone release from Evans five stars. Evans subsequently stuck his shovel into some of my personal business and our relationship went south instantly. On social media Evans was quoted as referring to his former label as "shit" and he would rant on the "white powers that be in the music business" including club owners. I produced a You Tube video with Evans breaking bread with a white club owner obviously cashing their checks so I find his righteous indignation as a black man taking on a so called white industry disingenuous at best. Posi-Tone had to be doing cartwheels when he left, just an educated guess. This is where my inability to separate my feelings comes into play. The most disturbing aspect of Evans is that he insisted on more than one occasion to meet me anytime and any place...you figure it out. Evans has two main problems and both surface with "...It was beauty." The piano field is an overly crowded field with Marc Cary perhaps leading the hard bop pack while Evans is rotating labels, band members, and harmonic vision with each subsequent release, that and block chording gets tired quick once you have heard McCoy Tyner. The second problem refers back to the issues previously mentioned, Orrin Evans continues to get in his own way with the type of pseudo-intellectual arrogance that only a Marsalis brother can pull off with any degree of credibility.
I respect Evans as a recording artist, his prolific talent is still being tapped into. "...It was beauty" shows the same flashes of brilliance that I found consistently on Flip The Script and ironically Evans liked my review so much he featured it on a promotional video at one time. The main knock on this release is that it will strip your harmonic gears quickly. There is no ebb and flow but conversely there is no obvious disconnect from this release. Orrin Evans is a master technician but what is lacking here is a consistent connectivity to a place far deeper than the soul. Evans has been there before and I have no doubt he will get there again.
Recorded January 29, 2013 in Brooklyn, NY, USA by Michael Marciano
Orrin Evans (P)