Criss Cross Jazz
Evans is an aggressive young pianist in whom you can hear traces of Mal Waldron, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, and Thelonious Monk. Coupled with the aggressive, interactive drummer Ralph Peterson, he, bassist Avishai Cohen (spelled by Rodney Whitaker on one track), various saxophonists convey a sense of urgency throughout much of this album. Among the saxophonists, Ralph Bowen (who taught Evans at Rutgers) is particularly inventive and commanding, especially in his Coltrane-tinged soprano solos on Evans' "Explain It to Me," "Big Jimmy," and "Don't Fall Off the E.L.J." Sam Newsome, on soprano, makes a lone appearance on a flying quartet (saxophone plus rhythm) version of Miles Davis' "Four." He leans more on familiar patterns than Bowen does. Tim Warfield (tenor) and Antonio Hart (alto) also appear on the album, both blustery and swinging.
Evans writes challenging tunes that often include odd time signatures (or tricky accents within a basic 4/4 pulse) and unusual phrase lengths. On "Calvary," the spiritual, he plays unaccompanied. Unfortunately, his busy Tynerisms bear little relation to that old time region. But throughout most of the album, the tune and his performance are a pair.