(Greatbend)

I often wonder “What am I looking for in jazz these days?” and, truth be told, rarely come up with a satisfactory answer. Too many times I listen to players showing disfunctional conditions and evident discrepancies between a fabulous technique and the correspondent absolute lack of sense of humour – not to mention the ability to WRITE serious music without resorting to the habitual (and often unconsciously used) formulas and definitions. That’s why I’m enjoying time and again this lively, articulate and – yes – humour-gifted album released in 2005 by Charles Evans (baritone sax), Peter Evans (trumpet and piccolo trumpet), Moppa Elliott (double bass) and Jan Roth (drums). As the title could suggest, no blood relation exists between the Evanses, but LOTS of relations are instantly audible as far as ingenious playing is concerned. This CD is what you’d usually call a “breath of fresh air”, in that it mixes excellent soloism and ensemble interplay of the highest calibre in eight tracks ranging from post-Braxton regulated freedom to various kinds of bipolar behavior during the exposition of more “popular” (?) motifs. The interaction between Charles Evans’ baritone sax – he’s a stunning virtuoso with irony to spare – and Peter Evans’ trumpet is such that one can sustain long minutes of microtonal nuances and unpredictable mental processes without any strain, feeling the buzz of an energy that is certainly not too common among today’s jazz groups. There is some sort of “unbalance” at work here, which gives the music an eccentric character, but there’s also a sense of ethical seriousness corroborated by an ever-active reciprocal listening (Elliott and Roth swing, mourn and – when necessary – rumble like madmen, for good measure). The booklet artwork is great too, in perfect line with the stimulating music and compositional intelligence that I perceive throughout the disc; the “counter-liner notes” (written in an undecipherable, fabulous jargon which could rival Christian Vander’s Kobaian in terms of incomprehensible meanings for us poor mortals) are alone worth a good laugh. This project spells “advanced communication”, representing a perfect antidote against the frigidity of many current composers – jazz or non-jazz. These guys are working at the margins of the market yet manage to fulfil our needs of smart syntactical deconstruction, and if you love body building there’s an additional reason to appreciate Charles Evans (don’t ask – check for yourself).

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