Friday, August 1, 2014

Brandon Evans-Foregiveness: Solo Contra Alto Clarinet (Live in Brussels, Belgium; October 20, 1999); Parallactic/Thought Authority Recordings, Remaster 22; 2013 reissue on bandcamp

Disaster Amnesiac once spent an afternoon hanging out and playing a bit of music with Brandon Evans. On a tip from a mutual friend who knew of my desire to play improvised/Jazz music, Evans came over to the Fillmore District flat that I was staying in. It became quickly apparent that Disaster Amnesiac would not be up to playing the complexly charted sound worlds that Evans had brought along with him, but we had fun singing Steve Lacy songs and talking about musicians and composers that we admired.
A few years later, it did not come as a shock to hear that Brandon had moved east to study with Anthony Braxton. Disaster Amnesiac figured that, of all of the people I'd encountered, it was Evans that could, and should, find a developmental path within Braxton's singular universe. Over the ensuing years, I've occasionally checked on line to  see where Evans' career was leading. It seemed like he'd disappeared for some time, but recently his bandcamp page has been filling up nicely. Dive in? Why, of course!
Seeing as that I really desired to hear Evans' music from a perspective of its core essence, Disaster Amnesiac figured that a solo recording would be a fine place from which to start delving into his work. Forgiveness-Solo Contra Alto Clarinet (Live in Brussels, 1999) marked that starting point for me.
Presumably culled from a longer set of solo music, Forgiveness features Evans wending his way through many melodic torsions on the very interesting looking contra alto clarinet. It sounds as if his approach starts with smaller cells of melody, from which he then extrapolates in many manners. It's really nice to hear the pure tone of this somewhat rarely used (at least in Jazz) instrument; it has a timbre that is rich and, from Evans, sometimes growly and raw. Along with the pure melody, he uses many manner of multi-phonics, tongue slaps, and fast riffs to get a great variety of interesting sounds from the horn. I also seem to hear some sly quotes from certain canonical items from time to time. The set's over thirty minutes of music retains a freshness over that period of time, as Evans explores his ideas, from said low tones to mid register trilling and higher register wails, to the fullest before moving along down their constantly renewing streams. He never lingers too long, but always seems to give each idea its full accounting before leaving it.
Forgiveness is a colorful and entertaining listen, and Disaster Amnesiac is happy to see Brandon Evans getting back to music making. He's put in work, physical and psychic. Spend some time appreciating his sound discoveries, the world could be better for it. 

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