Jazz pianist Orrin Evans has been knocking on the door of stardom in jazz for a full decade, but with Faith in Action, it seems he's really hit his stride. As a performer he's a more confident improviser willing to take chances, while also retaining a sweetness and lighthearted approach that reflects the romantic inside. These ten tracks are equally split compositionally between him and obvious mentor Bobby Watson, all in trio settings with bassist Luques Curtis and with drummer Nasheet Waits featured on seven tracks; Waits is replaced on two cuts by Gene Jackson and on another track by Rocky Bryant. How Evans plays in giddy highs or serene lows is impressive, with little gray area shown or needed. Tunes by Watson are quite well-known, but without horns are still full and rich. The title track was made famous by John Hicks simply as "Faith," a brilliant 6/8 in 4/4 organ of beauty as Evans digs into its ultimately pristine melody. Watson's most acclaimed composition when he was with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, "Wheel Within a Wheel" is spare but no less vibrant; "Appointment in Milano" is a modal two-fisted bopper where Evans goes a bit out and crazed; while "Love Remains" is an ultimate romantic, late-night, steamy piece built for intimacy. Evans wrote "Don't Call Me Wally" in a delightful funk to swing beat, deft but still lean; "MAT-Matt" is very combustible and spontaneous, stopping and starting back up; and "Why Not" closes in a easy swing unlike the rest. Summarily this is the most ambitious effort, and also one that shows the innate common sense of Orrin Evans. He is no longer emerging, but now established as a skilled and experienced young to middle-aged mainstream jazzman who should be around making great music for a long time.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos