Orrin Evans : The Red Door Review
The Swinging Doors of Conversations: A Glimpse through The Red Door With Orrin Evans
Orrin Evans opens the door to the hallowed heritage of jazz that has emerged into today’s modern jazz, an album that pays tribute to his lineage and his faction of musicians, The Red Door. Released on the Smoke Sessions Records, this album is a collection of originals and arrangements that traverses an expedition of styles to stimulate the senses and challenge conventions.
Opening with the title track, “The Red Door,” the listener is instantly catapulted into Evans’ universe, which is familiar with jazz history and unique in the innovation of his history into something new. The groove is funky and swinging, the tempo upbeat, and there’s an immediate awareness that the ensemble is in sync and here to play. The song flows with well-played horn stabs and jabs, and the virtuosic piano playing of Evans is the heart and soul of this track, inviting the listener to not just listen, but to participate, to feel, and to move with the rhythm. Buster Williams’ bass and Gene Jackson’s drums lay a foundational swing that allows the trumpet of Nicholas Payton and the tenor saxophone of Gary Thomas to ascend to glorious heights. Their solos are imbued with a sense of storytelling that sets the tone for the rest of the album.
Evans’ original compositions within the album indicate a thoughtful composer who knows his ensemble. Tracks such as “The Good Life,” “I Have the Feeling I’ve Been Here Before,” and “The Way You Make Me Feel” demonstrate his ear for melodies. Evans also orchestrates his compositions’ intricate layers and the skillful interplay between the musicians during the interpretive moments. They are snapshots of musical conversations, encapsulating the dynamism and spontaneity that is the hallmark of jazz.
Interwoven with these original compositions are renditions of beloved standards, including “All the Things You Are,” “Autumn Leaves,” and “I’ll Be Seeing You .”Evans’ creative arranging skills shine as he instills new life into these timeless pieces while maintaining a reverent homage to their origins. This delicate balance between innovation and tradition keeps the theme and informs Evans as an arranger.
The vocal contributions from Jazzmeia Horn, Sy Smith, and Alita Moses add another layer of richness to the album. Each brings a unique vocal color and artistic flair to the music, infusing the album with diversity and depth. Their vocal performances are not just accompaniments but integral parts of the musical narrative that Evans weaves throughout the album.
The Red Door is an album with a sense of energy and groove that propels the listener forward by a talented cast of musicians. The power of Evans’ music is it’s challenging without being intimidating, complex without being convoluted, and the album remains accessible to anyone that likes a ‘good beat’ as they used to say in the day. The Red Door is a world of rhythm and melody, stories told through notes and harmonies, and a journey that promises to be unforgettable.
The Red Door
June 16, 2023
Smoke Sessions Records