Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: The Intangible Between (Smoke Sessions)

A review of the pianist-led ensemble's album dedicated to Roy Hargrove and Lawrence “Lo” Leathers

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band: The Intangible Between
The cover of the The Intangible Between by Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band

In his most recently acquired role as the keyboard-playing third of the Bad Plus, Philadelphia-based Orrin Evans put on his thinking cap and added large doses of quirk to his usual hard bop-enlivened piano stylings for the good of the woolly collective. Solid. What’s left, then, for his workouts with his big band of ever-shifting size is a mix of bright, off-kilter arrangements (Evans’ first substantial contribution to his band’s book as an arranger) that would do the latter-day Gil Evans Orchestra proud (particularly on the brassy “Proclaim Liberty”), gospel traditionalism (on Harry Dixon Loes’ funky-cool “This Little Light of Mine”), flywheel rhythms from drummer Anwar Marshall, and rousing solos from Captain Black ensemble players old and new. To go with these lifted spirits and holy rollings, The Intangible Between is dedicated to trumpeter Roy Hargrove and drummer Lawrence “Lo” Leathers, both recently deceased and both treasured friends to the pianist.

Having learned how to focus Captain Black’s usual Panavision-like scope with the smaller-ensemble album Presence in 2018, Evans makes every jovial jam by his current crew of vets and newbies tighter than a fresh facelift, yet still loosely soulful. While that comes through more elegantly on simmering Evans compositions such as “That Too” and the fluty “I’m So Glad I Got to Know You,” the band’s tautly grooving brand of open-air soul blasts forth best in trumpeter Josh Lawrence’s warmly humorous arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s “Off Minor.” The song’s fleshy reed and brass sound is crowded, with just enough room to breathe. Evans displays his generosity of spirit and fleet fingering; he and Lawrence also create space to pivot and turn for four bassists (including Evans’ Tarbaby pal Eric Revis) and two drummers—a comic scenario that never comes across like a clown car. That dose of fun is new for the often menacing and moody Orrin Evans, and makes the intangible tangible. Brilliant.

Preview, buy or download The Intangible Between on Amazon!