With Mother's Touch, Evans may be the finest improvisational pianist since McCoy Tyner.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
At times I have been tough on Orrin Evans simply because he is that good. Flip The Script may be one of the finest piano trio recordings of the modern era, Mother's Touch has just raised the bar for big bands everywhere. Orrin Evans is a man of keen intellect and supreme passion. Mother's Touch is that harmonic outpouring of intellect and passion that transcends the expected and "flips the script" for a big band to move well outside the harmonic box of the norm and create a new cerebral plane from which to contemplate where the melodic road less traveled may lead.
The Captain Black Big Band takes synergy and cohesion to a new place. A relentless swing that embraces a new lyrical norm. Everyone is singing from the same page of the hymnal. The commitment of Evans is well known, the beauty is that he never gets in his own way with Mother's Touch. The band includes standouts such as saxophonist Tim Green, trombonist Conrad Herwig and Tanya Darby on trumpet but it is the innate ability of 17 piece horn section to function as a true improvisational collective that allows some stunning originals from Evans to reach full potential. "In My Soul" and "Prayer For Columbine" are the perfect bookends and add tremendous depth and sensitivity to a compositional arsenal sometimes more closely associated with more inaccessible stereotypes that Mother's Touch effectively shatters. Six of the nine tunes are Evans originals.
While artistic comparisons are inherently unfair, Mother's Touch is reminiscent of some of the great McCoy Tyner big band projects but the vision and voice is distinctly that of Orrin Evans. There is nothing to grind on here as Orrin Evans has found his wheelhouse.
Already one of the best for 2014!
Tracks: In My Soul; Explain It To Me; Mother's Touch; Dita; Tickle; Maestra; Water Babies; Mother's Touch Part II; Prayer For Columbine.
Personnel: Trumpets: Tanya Darby, Duane Eubanks, Tatum Greenblatt, Brian Kilpatrick, Fabio Morgera; Trombones: David Gibson, Conrad Herwig, Andy Hunter, Stafford Hunter, Brent White; Saxophones: Mark Allen, Todd Bashore, Doug Dehays; Stacy Dillard; Tim Green; Victor North, Marcus Strickland.
Piano: Orrin Evans, Zaccai Curtis (Mother's Touch); Bass: Luques Curtis; Drums; Anwar Marshall, Ralph Peterson (Explain It To Me).