Bill Evans

Touch

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Mixing laid-back melodies with go-for-broke jams with some of the greatest names in modern instrumental music, saxophonist Bill Evans lives in the middle ground between smooth jazz and what could easily be termed of as contemporary jazz fusion. On his Zebra Records debut, Touch, the distinction is based on each song's sense of adventure. "In Your Heart," for instance, is the kind of right in the pocket, sweet little slice of passion that radio drools over, made unique (as Evans does on all tunes) by switching off from the high tones of the soprano with the darker shades of tenor to better discuss the emotional complexities of love. Likewise there's the cool, urban-flavored "Remember," which features subtle vocal chanting floating off in the distance. But then there's the edgier side of Evans intertwining his soprano with Lew Soloff's staccato trumpet energy on the brisk blues of "Dixie Hop," and kicking up all sorts of dust on the last two tunes, "Back to the Walls" and the ten-minute "Country Mile." "Back to the Walls" blends both of Evans's axes with Soloff's trumpet, an African vocal chant, the insistent wah-wah guitar of Adam Rogers, and a jamming Memphis soul-inspired horn section featuring Soloff and trombonist Conrad Herving as the Voodoo Horns.

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