Orrin Evans

Blessed Ones

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Orrin Evans approaches playing and bandleading with ever-greater sophistication and intensity. Blessed Ones, his fifth Criss Cross release, showcases some of his most inventive work to date. For the first time in quite a while, the pianist is heard entirely in a trio setting, flanked by bassist Eric Revis and drummer Nasheet Waits (with Philly veteran Edgar Bateman replacing Waits on two tracks). The rhythmic simpatico of the group is gripping, particularly on Michel Legrand's "I Will Wait for You" and a semi-abstract "Autumn Leaves." Even more enchanting is their reading of Pat Metheny's "Bright Size Life," which opens with a perfectly logical -- yet wholly surprising -- rubato statement of the melody. (Criss Cross artists seem drawn to these early Metheny tunes -- check out "Missouri Uncompromised" on Alex Sipiagin's Steppin' Zone.) Among the other highlights are two pieces by Trudy Pitts, "Blessed One the Eternal Truth" and the ballad "Anysha." (Evans was so enamored of the latter that he saw fit to offer two contrasting takes.)

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