Orrin Evans at Jazz Standard 1/7/17 (by EB Silverman)


PERSONNEL: Orrin Evans, piano; Bill McHenry/JD Allen, tenor saxophone; Ingrid Jensen, trumpet; James Genus, bass; Mark Whitfield Jr, drums (sitting in on the blues: Sean Jones, trumpet; Donald Edwards, drums; George Burton, piano)

SET LIST:  Glide (Evans), Save the Children (M Gaye Arr. Evans), Take out the Midgets and Send in the Giants (Allen), Kooks (Bowie Arr. Evans), blues (N/A)

HIGHLIGHTS: Diverse accompaniment by the trio for each of the three unique soloists. The free playing always felt propulsive.

The band took the stage relaxed and joking among themselves. It was the final night of a three night stint for the sextet (the Captain Black Big Band had played the previous three nights).

A freeform melody pierced the air and the band took off.  Jensen played directly into the grand piano, eliciting a certain echo of the trumpet and overtones from the piano. The band dropped out as McHenry took the stage a capella, wailing away. Evans got up and changed Bill’s music, preparing the band for Marvin Gaye’s “Save the Children.” The medium slow straight 8th groove paired with the robust sound of McHenry’s tenor.

“Take out the Midgets and Send in the Giants” began with Rollinish strings of lines from Allen alone out front. A cue’d melody put the whole band back in the familiar territory of the unknown. The only solo by Genus from both sets offered deep tone and flawless virtuosity.

Evans announced the next tune as a Jensen feature, “Kooks,” a David Bowie number recorded on Orrin’s #knowingishalfthebattle. Whitfield’s introduction took some time, slowly making its way towards an implied 12/8, hip hop beat. Jensen freely interpreted the verse of the tune before turning it over to Evans. The tune had an uplifting feeling with a catchy break at the end of every chorus and wonderful interplay between the rhythm section (changing the feel, creating interesting fills before/during/after the break). Jensen’s warm sounds, even in the higher register, were a pleasant fit for tune.

To finish up, Evans thanked the audience and the club and told his pals in the audience to come up and sit in on a fast blues. It was charming seeing friends appear from the back of the Standard and into the light. Donald Edwards was first and ended up playing the entire tune. Sean Jones sat to the side and waited for his time to strike. Midway through the tune, Orrin looked deep into the dark room and gestured: Sure enough, George Burton appeared, placing his bracelets and rings on top of the piano. “Orrin Evans and his jazz family” came to an end with a melodic fragment cue’d by McHenry , echoed by the whole front line before halting on a dime.


— by EB Silverman