Climbing the Gates
This is an unassuming little piano-trio album that sneaks up on you. There are very few jazz pianists who sound less egocentric than Falkner Evans. Whether playing standards like “Easy to Remember” or one of his own well-turned songs, Evans is understated, measured and methodical. Yet his way of elaborating a thematic structure, which usually works from insistent repetition taken through nuanced variation, creates its own subtle surprises. He makes you listen carefully to discover the complexities that he configures beneath his music’s attractive but subdued surface.
His own “Floating From Florence” is a simple stepped figure subjected to minute gradations, which become quietly incantatory. Monk’s “Ask Me Now,” played a little faster than the norm, has enough details just off the margin to make it new. Cecil McBee tells intriguing stories with his bass solos and Matt Wilson’s brushwork is impeccable, but the most memorable track is the only piano solo. “I’m Through With Love” was inspired by Keith Jarrett’s version but is more like Diana Krall’s: painfully slow, thoughtfully decorated, matter-of-fact about sadness and therefore affecting.
One fun factoid: Evans is a third cousin of the great novelist William Faulkner, whose publisher added a “u” to the family name.