This recording catches bassist Joe Fonda and pianist Michael Stevens leading their legendary quintet in a compilation of three different European concerts. Fonda and Stevens wrote all the pieces on this CD, which also features new music trumpeter Herb Robertson, drummer Harvey Sorgen, and alto saxophonist/clarinetist Mark Whitecage. While most of these performers are identified with the freer styles of jazz, Evolution is a chance to hear them in a diversity of contexts. "Song for my Mother" is a lovely, lyrical ode that encompasses melodic invention and avant-garde playing. "Birdtalk" is dedicated to Charlie Parker and offers some rare bop soloing by Robertson. The head of "Second Time Around" was written only with rhythmic notation, but without predetermined pitches. "Strayhorn" is a moving remembrance of the titan arranger that stretches as it looks back. Robertson and Whitecage are particularly strong performers throughout and clearly enjoy the variety of moods and tempos. While the recording suffers somewhat from poor sound quality, the outstanding musicianship clearly compensates.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy