Orrin Evans, The Intangible Between Review
by Stamish Malcuss
Orrin Evans needs no introduction to the jazz genre. Although he has not reached the masses like his fellow Philadelphian, Christian McBride, Evans is undoubtedly well-known in the jazz world. Establishing himself as one of modern jazz’s most renowned and distinctive voices in his own right through more than twenty-five albums as a leader. The pianist and bandleader is joined by his cohort of fellow musicians in the Captain Black Big Band, and are now releasing The Intangible Between on the Smoke Sessions label. The title, according to Evans, refers to an elusive decision point, that sense of stepping off a ledge into the unknown that comes with taking risks and setting a new course. “This record is just about going for it, taking those projects you’ve been dreaming about and just making them happen,” he says. “The industry constantly tells you to wait, but for how long? Why not just do it now?”
This recording is the first where Evans acts as the arranger for the band. A creative arrangement of “This Little Light of Mine” is fitting and sounds of modernism and gospelism. The feel is established by Evans on the piano along with the bass and drums. The melody is adorned with counterpoint, band hits, and slick ensemble passages. The arrangement is full of creativity and is perfectly arranged for his ten-piece band. The solos are energetic and possess the modern language of jazz in full force. Evans’ solo especially has a stirring impact of vigor and life.
Trombonist David Gibson honors the late great Roy Hargrove with his outstanding arrangement of “Into Dawn.” The melody is harmonized with beautiful voicings as the rhythm section plays rhythmic statements around it. The waltz feel is percolating with activity as the soloist takes us on a ride of music joy through virtuosic techniques. The rhythm section is a well-oiled machine, and when it feels like this, everything lines up, and it is magical.
Evans’ The Intangible Between is full of excellent musical moments. There is plenty of excitement as the Captain Black Big Band gives us well-executed ensemble playing, small group creativity, and expressive solos. The Intangible Between reflects the chemistry of the core ensemble while expressing themselves through a set of eight modern jazz selections.