You don’t have to be fully caffeinated to appreciate Ghosts, but a can or two of Red Bull might put you more comfortably in the speed zone where Peter Evans spends much of his time on Ghosts. Working with live-processing wiz Sam Pluta, the remarkable young trumpeter creates a soundscape of jittery, clamorous power and unsettling urgency through time lags, multiplied voices, refracted tones and echo effects. The title of the opening track, “...One to Ninety Two,” could be describing the instant rate of acceleration with which it leaves its acknowledged source, “The Christmas Song,” behind.
Backed by pianist Carlos Homs, who makes like Ethan Iverson in his Bad Plus guise with his insistent melodicism; drummer Jim Black, playing at full tilt; and bassist Tom Blancarte, Evans largely transcends gimmickry. Striving, he says, to make live processing integral to the music rather than an external element, he uses it to transport hard bop to a sort of musical Twilight Zone. Appropriately, the album concludes with a tingly reading of “Stardust” featuring piccolo trumpet and two pianos.
In a more straightforward fashion, Evans delivers a spectacular extended solo on “Articulation,” an original inspired by Woody Shaw. His hardnosed, beautifully rounded tone is also reminiscent of primetime Freddie Hubbard. Having emerged with the larkish Mostly Other People Do the Killing and collaborated memorably with visionaries Evan Parker and Mary Halvorson, he faces a future of unlimited possibilities.