Friday, November 18, 2016

USA: Evan Christopher - Bayou Chant & Other Textures(STR Digital Records 2016)

Christopher s journey on Clarinet Road began in 1994, when he left his native California to join the New Orleans music community. Diverse freelance work included gigs with musicians such as Al Hirt and veterans of Preservation Hall to funk and brass bands including the Nightcrawlers and Galactic. Over twenty years later, Bayou Chant & Other Textures, evidences his enthusiasm and continued commitment to exploring the full range of possibilities in the New Orleans clarinet tradition. He extends the legacy of New Orleans traditions with his highly personal brand of contemporary, early jazz. Critics have coined his dynamic expressiveness as close-encounter music (NEW YORK TIMES) and have called his respect for the music traditions of New Orleans, a triumph, joining the present seamlessly to a glorious past. (THE OBSERVER, UK).
Evan Christopher s concerts during the 2015 JazzFest season were advertised with the byline, Clarinet Road: Because not everyone wants to, Hear Somebody Scream. Indeed, the live tracks of Bayou Chant & Other Textures reflect Christopher s the intimate, acoustic setting of Luthjen s Dance Hall in the Faubourg Marigny. Christopher describes the pieces as vignettes or stories of contemporary New Orleans narrated by the soulful Creole clarinet that developed its vocabulary there.
The first two evenings recorded were duo settings with piano virtuosos Joe Ashlar and David Torkanowsky, respectively. The third night was a trio experiment with Brian Seeger on guitars and bassist Roland Guerin. The material was a mix of classics and originals, although the selections chosen for this CD were composed by Christopher with the exception of Father, a gospel waltz penned by Brian Seeger and Steady Flow by Roland Guerin.
The result feels somewhat like a Clarinet Road concert experience and evokes indigenous New Orleans traditions such as the Mardi Gras Indians, funerals with music and, of course, sonic glimpses of the great clarinetists associated with traditional New Orleans music, including Sidney Bechet, Barney Bigard and Omer Simeon. In an article for Jazziz magazine (Sept. 2016), NYC journalist and NOLA-phile Larry Blumenfeld offers a preview of the CD noting the rendition of Waltz for All Souls, in particular.
You ll hear how a determined sense.of purpose combines with a sanctified feeling, and how a sense of history gets distilled into something that sounds more urgent than nostalgic and truly undiluted.