Pianist Orrin Evans’ latest release entitled "Freedom," is now available from Posi-Tone Records. According to his current press kit, (this recording) “is an interpretive exploration of the music of his Philadelphia friends and mentors. This trio date features a hometown crew of sideman including the solid playing of bassist Dwayne Burno, the precise metrics of drummer Byron Landham, and the tenor saxophone stylings of special guest Larry McKenna. Also guesting on the record is up-and-coming Philly drummer Anwar Marshall.
As with all of the press releases here on saxshed.com we will focus on the saxophone playing. The very capable Larry McKenna and former mentor of Evans only appears briefly on two cuts, Gray’s Ferry and the Jules Styne classic Time After Time.
The somber and brooding Gray’s Ferry appears as the second track following the up-tempo piano feature One For Honor. The Larry McKenna states the opening melody in a husky low register on tenor sax who then launches into his first solo. McKenna’s tone and demeanor which can be so sweet and understated is more forward here. It’s interesting to hear Larry in this somewhat uncharacteristic setting. Uncharacteristic or not, every solo I have heard Larry McKenna construct comes out as a lesson in the history of jazz improvisation. His solos are not made of chords, scales or licks but rather through-composed little gems.
Much more in keeping with the Larry McKenna many of us know and love is his rendering of Jules Styne’s Time After Time. His happy-go-lucky swinging tenor sax spins out line after line, chorus after chorus – seldom (if never) repeating himself. Once again Larry has schooled this listener in the art of jazz improvisation. As with McKenna’s first appearance here, Orrin Evans solos second and with complete command and confidence at the piano. Dwayne Burno and Byron Lanham trade on bass and drums, which then lead into the final out-chorus.
Although the focus here may be upon saxophonist Larry McKenna’s contribution to Orrin Evan’s “Freedom,” the remainder of the recording is worth a listen as well. The final track Just Enough beautifully showcases Orrin Evans on solo piano.
You can find out more about Orrin Evans and other innovative recordings at www.posi-tone.com