Expansion is the name of the game on Falkner Evans’ The Point of the Moon. The pianist and composer moves beyond the post-bop setting and outside of the architecture of the trio to provoke new sensations with a record of modern jazz that comes courtesy of a larger group.
Fronted by Greg Tardy (tenor saxophone) and Ron Horton (trumpet), the group on The Point of the Moon offers plenty of variety and dexterity as it moves through Evans’ compositions. A rhythm section that features bassist Belden Bullock and drummer Matt Wilson closes the deal, while keyboardist Gary Versace lends his talents to a pair of tracks near album’s end.
Evans’ ability to step into unfamiliar territory works wonders. He sought out the services of pianist Mike Longo, his former teacher, for help on crafting the horn charts heard here. “It was a real learning experience,” says Evans. “Unlike a looser trio date, here everything had to be nailed down. With horns involved, you have to think differently rhythmically.”
For the average listener, what Evans has cooking here is something special. The intricacy of what’s going on behind the scenes (and on the charts) never obfuscates the sheer swing and groove of these pieces – and that’s a damn refreshing thing.
Evans doesn’t work for show, thankfully, and the music of The Point of the Moon is determined to let the ensemble shine. With tracks like the delicate and smooth “Drawing In,” the patience of the artists shines. The combination of horns on the piece is particularly stunning, as the two players meld together while curbing the notion of overwhelming one another. Beautiful stuff.
Versace’s organ adds the right touch on “Off the Top,” a soulful blues piece that has Bullock walking some serious lines.
Evans, who is third cousin to author William Faulkner, is a Tulsa original whose work with neo-Western Swing band Asleep at the Wheel is the stuff of Grammy-winning legend. Active as a soloist and group leader, it’s clear that this Oklahoma cat knows his way around territory that would stun most of us into silence.
His The Point of the Moon is a brave step forward, a lunge out of the comfort zone that results in a clear, expressive, groovy, swingin’ jazz record worth many a repeat spin.
Article first published as Music Review: Falkner Evans – The Point of the Moon on Blogcritics.