I have heard Orrin Evans’ piano on a variety of albums over the last years but Liberation Blues on the Smoke Session label is really the first Evans album that his been in my rotation for any length of time. I can tell you it won’t be the last, and since his recording career includes 20 plus albums recorded as a leader since it began in 1994, I have a lot more music to explore!
Evans was born in Trenton, NJ and raised in the jazz rich city of Philadelphia, where he attended the Girard Academic Music Program. He continued his education at the Mason School of Arts at Rutgers University. Along the way, he studied informally with the likes of Shirley Scott and formally with Kenny Barron, Joanne Brackeen. In addition to being pianist, Evans is also an accomplished composer, band leader, teacher, producer and arranger., Ralph Bowen and Ted Dunbar
He has recorded with a range of artists including: Wallace Roney, Mos Def, Common, Pharoah Sanders, Antonio Hart, Carmen Lundy, Ralph Peterson, Jr., Ralph Bowen, The Mingus Big Band, Roy Hargrove, Nicholas Payton, Branford Marsalis, Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson, Sean Jones, Tim Warfield, Ravi Coltrane, Robin Eubanks, Duane Eubanks and Dave Douglas.
In addition to his solo recordings Evans has recorded with the critically acclaimed group Tarbaby, plus Luvpark and Seed.
Recorded live at Smoke in New York City Liberation Blues is a twelve track set featuring a quintet that includes: bassist Luques Curtis, drummer Bill Stewart, saxophonist JD Allen and trumpeter Sean Jones. Everytime I listen to the album, I hear something new! The first time through it was mostly Sean Jones’ trumpeting on subsequent listens the playing of the rest of the group stood out, including Orrin’s incomparable piano work. For a track by track analysis of the album check out this great piece by Gary Walker, music director at WBGO – ORRIN EVANS: LIBERATION BLUES
Bottom line if you like great jazz piano check out Liberation Blues, as well as, the rest of Orrin’s discography!
Here’s a video of the Orrin Evans Quintet live at their CD Release Party at Smoke…