February 1, 2015
Peter Evans Quintet
More is More MM 141
By Ken Waxman
Unusually constituted with a front line of brass, piano and live electronics,
Destination: Void is another indication of how trumpeter Peter Evans is altering the fabric of improvised music. Seemingly capable of producing every sound on his horn from spindly murmurs to aggressive whinnying, the four extended Evans compositions here feature Sam Pluta’s sound wave mutation, and are given extra impetus by Ron Stabinsky’s mercurial exploration of piano keys and strings.
Evans’ command of his instrument is such that at points his graceful flutters take on reed characteristics, most appropriately on “Twelve (for Evan Parker)”, saluting the British saxophonist. Elsewhere he single-handedly creates a rhythmic ostinato that would usually come from a conventional rhythm section of bass and drums. Diffident throughout, in contrast bassist Tom Blancarte showcases triple-stopping on the concluding “Tresillo”; while surprisingly percussionist Jim Black’s thumping resonations are most prominent when linked with processed hisses plus the pianist’s low-pitched rumbling on the balladic “Make It So”. Taken as a whole, formalist notated music is referenced throughout.
If the preceding tracks ramp up excitement via speed-of-light keyboard exchanges, half-valve dramatics plus in-and-out-of focus oscillated flanges, the 27-minute concluding “Tresillo” crackles with such intensity that you could imagine a second quartet with the same instruments is present and playing along. As Evans’ endlessly inventive disconnected grace notes float over the theme expansion that is one part multiphonic electronic drones and one part ever-shifting rhythm, the initial sequence climaxes with distinctive animal-like shrieks and shudders. Never losing the narrative direction however, the end section could be an acoustic showcase recital, as Stabinsky shapes the program with slapped keys and sweeping glissandi at the same time as Evans attains the highest-pitched triplets with his horn.
With these virtuosic performances spectacular but never lapsing into bravado for its own sake, Evans and company demonstrate that improvised music future destination isn’t void but diversity
—For The Whole Note February 2015