May 20, 2024

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Orrin Evans says Philly jazz scene fuels his love of genre: Photos, Video

Noted jazz trio The Bad Plus has delighted fans with their unique and creative talents over the past 18 years. And last year the trio started a new chapter in their development when co-founder Ethan Iverson left The Bad Plus, and pianist and long-time friend of the band, Orrin Evans, stepped in.

Evans, former leader of the Kimmel Center education Jazz Standards program, will join bandmates bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King on Saturday, Feb. 9 in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater.

Evans says it wasn’t difficult stepping into the role left vacant by Iverson. He says, “It might only be difficult for people who don’t know my work. But, in fact, I’ve got 25 years of experience, and I’ve known the other guys for years.

“It might have been difficult to step into this role if I didn’t know the others and they were like a tight-knit family. The only thing to watch out for is not to step on the toes of the others.”

Shortly after Evans became part of The Bad Plus, Never Stop II was released. It features four original compositions by Anderson, two by Evans, and two by King. Evans says the band is currently working on a new album.

“Audiences at the Kimmel will hear music from the past 20 years, as well as music from the latest album we made. We’ll have a wonderful time,” Evans insists.

Just being with the trio means Evans himself is having a wonderful time.

“Today is my first birthday with The Bad Plus and I’m enjoying every minute of it,” says Evans, raised in Philadelphia and a graduate of Rutgers University. “I studied at Rutgers but I would say my real education came from the streets of Philly.

“So I am pretty much university trained,” Evans continues, “but my real love and dedication to this music was taught in the Philadelphia jazz clubs. Philly is a great place to grow up with jazz. And it still is.”

When Evans is not playing with The Bad Plus, you can hear him performing with the Captain Black Big Band, comprised of anywhere from eleven to seventeen members, depending on the venue and music called for.

“In fact, right after my appearance at the Kimmel, I’ll be joining the Captain Black Big Band to find out if we’ve won the Grammy we’ve been nominated for. No matter who I’m playing with, my goal is the same. And that’s to make my music universal, and find a way to make a big band sound like a small group, and a small group sound like a big band. I want to take you on a musical journey and make everything you hear satisfying.”

But how does Evans find the time to perform with two bands almost constantly? “It’s really simple,” he explains. “There are 365 days in a year, and 24 hours in a day. So you just have to make the most of it.”

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