Bill Evans: Big Fun

Saxophonist Bill Evans’ aptly named Big Fun (ESC) -which shares its title with an album by Evans’ former boss, Miles Davis-is an exuberant funk fest whose stellar lineup of players is clearly enjoying digging into the material. The horn-driven title track features red-hot soloing by guitarist Robben Ford, and Evans and guitarist Hiram Bullock perform a scorching duet on “Blues for Stanley,” an elegy for Stanley Turrentine originally intended as a duet with the late saxophone great. “Midnight Creeper” features tasty soloing by Evans and trumpeter Randy Brecker, and Les McCann gives gritty vocal performances on “Catch You When You Fall” and “That’s That!” Willie Nelson makes an unexpected but highly compelling appearance on Buffalo Springfield’s classic “For What It’s Worth,” infusing the lyrics with appropriate gravitas as Bruce Hornsby harmonizes with him. That tune and Evans’ soaring, bittersweet performance on “Real Heroes,” a tribute to the heroes who lost their lives on September 11, provide effective contrast to the album’s prevailing party vibe.