Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Charles Evans, On Beauty, with David Liebman

Baritone sax phenom and jazz composer Charles Evans has been giving us much to like with his consistently worthwhile albums, more than a few by now, and he shows no signs of letting up. If there is such as thing as sophomore jinx in jazz, and I am not sure there is, he is not one prone to it. Quite the opposite.

The new one delves deeply into an avant chamber jazz that consists of a multi-part composition-improvisational platform called On Beauty (More is More 152). It is a through composed suite by Charles featuring himself of course on baritone, his mentor David Liebman on soprano, Ron Stabinsky on piano and Tony Marino on bass.

Evans and Liebman have a very inspired improvisational presence, both separately and collectively, as they weave improv with the compositional material. Ron Stabinsky plays his very modern harmonically extended parts and adds some brilliant improvisations as well. And bassist Tony Marino brings up the bottom with a full tone and good ideas.

This is music that plays structure against freedom in ways that may remind you of early AACM or even Jimmy Giuffre in his more outside period when Paul Bley and Steve Swallow were key members in his ensemble. But that only covers precedents, not things imitated, for Charles comes through once again as a determined and eloquent musical personality, a baritone of stature but also a music composer-director who has direction and purpose, who succeeds in carving out his own new jazz turf in ways that make you listen and appreciate.

It is one more landmark-signifying notch in the musical belt of Mr. Charles Evans. It is more-or-less required listening for anyone who wants to explore the newness to be had out there today. Formidable music!

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