Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, Mother’s Touch (Posi-Tone)
Regulars at the uptown New York club Smoke relish not only the musicianship but also the slap-dash camaraderie that pianist Orrin Evans’ big band exhibits during performances. Without the fun and games, the band is just as compelling in this studio recording. Evans’ “In My Soul,” slow and slinky with gospel overtones, sets the high standard that his contingent of bright youngsters and experienced veterans maintains throughout. Evans, tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland, trombonist Conrad Herwig and trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt are among the excellent soloists. Greenblatt and saxophonist Stacy Dillard shine on Wayne Shorter’s “Water Babies.” Following Evans’ ethereal piano in “Dita,” lead alto saxophonist Todd Bashore solos with neo-Johnny Hodges sensibility. The two short parts of “Mother’s Touch” are built on a seven-note phrase in a head arrangement by this inventive band.