Last Tuesday evening at the Jazz Standard, fortified by a plate of succulent ribs and amidst an appreciative audience, sonic rewards were plentiful from pianist Orrin Evans once again offering ample evidence that his arc continues on the rise. That evening and the next at the agreeable East Side joint, Evans piloted a rough & ready quartet with Eric Revis on bass, that Buddah of zest-for-life drumming Ralph Peterson, and the too often overlooked, ever-dapper tenor man Tim Warfield. Casually dressed for the heat & humidity, newsboy topper in place amidst his be-suited bandmembers, Evans delivered as always.
(Faith in Action on the Polytone label is Orrin Evans’ latest effort. He’s working towards a big band date that’ll feature musicians from New York and his home base Philadelphia.)
The first set was built amidst on-the-fly thoughtful improvisation so rigorous that by the second piece Revis – the heartbeat of this quartet and the one who seems to have the most telepathic connection to the leader – had already sweat through his suit jacket by the time they finished the piece "Miles", dedicated to Evans’ young son. A trickster arrangement of Mingus’ seldom interpreted "Scenes in the City" found Warfield circling the theme then darting to the bullseye essence of that typically enchanting Mingus melody as the piece unfolded.
Orrin Evans consistently challenges himself and his mates, ever mindful of the traditional values, but prodding and plotting originality all along the watchtower. Contemplation begat some swinging business as the family guy’s fine tribute to his mother-in-law "Dita" unfolded. Now how often do you hear warm, sincere in-law tributes?