Liberation Blues

Dedicated to Dwayne Burno who died far too young at the end of 2013, and beginning with the late bassist’s ‘Devil Eyes’ a tune based on the Matt Dennis/Earl Brent song ‘Angel Eyes’ – “Dwayne just took it and went quote-unquote ‘to a darker direction’,” pianist Orrin Evans says in the notes – part of a five-part suite that comprises nearly half of the album, Liberation Blues was recorded at Smoke in Harlem over a couple of nights not long after Burno died. With Evans are tenorist JD Allen, whose recently released excellent album Bloom the pianist played on; as Evans also was with trumpeter Sean Jones and bassist Luques Curtis on Jones’ Never Before Seen; and Bill Stewart all rolling thunder on drums, plus on the encore track ‘The Night Had a Thousand Eyes’ Philly scene singer Joanna Pascale adding some brooding textures. Like Midnight Melodies Miles’ ‘The Theme’ helps wrap up the tail end of the album. All in all, a very sincere technically adroit album that lights up from time to time and vaults genre from hard bop to free jazz with consummate ease, the latter a version of Paul Motian’s edgy ‘Mumbo Jumbo’. SG