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Bill Evans: Soul Insider

A rollicking tribute to such soul-jazz pioneers as Eddie Harris and Les McCann, Bill Evans’ Soul Insider is an instant classic in its own right: meticulously crafted, with complex arrangements, yet freewheeling enough to soar and sear in the spirit of its inspiration. The well-celebrated saxophonist outdoes himself here, leading the brash, big-brass sound of the Voodoo Horns (trumpeter Lew Soloff and trombonist Conrad Herwig are his partners in crime), and swinging out on solos. Evans spirals and squeals across the funky rhythms and searing Hammond riffs of “Vans Joint,” for example, and weaves sly, sexy alto lines on the darker “Cheeks.” He’s backed by an amazingly tight band, including Ricky Peterson on purring, whirling keyboards and Steve Jordan on drums, who lays down mind-bendingly complex rhythmic figures throughout. Their handiwork ranges from the dark, kicking grooves of “Big Mama” to the charged-up, knuckle-balling “Thump,” which gives the spaces as much importance as the music. Evans and the gang go direct to the source material for “Cool Eddie,” a bright, rocking piece inspired by “Listen Here,” and “Lose My Number,” which finds Les McCann himself singing in a driving, funk-story format that’ll take you right back to the early days.

Originally Published