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Every week on the air there's a special focus on one particular jazz album. Check them all out here!

Jazz Album of the Week: Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band's Presence

Smoke Sessions Records
Orrin Evans is a Philadelphia favorite

October 29, 2018. Even though jazz pianist, composer and bandleader Orrin Evans recently joined the boundary-bending trio The Bad Plus based in NYC, his local projects still remain on the forefront. The Captain Black Big Band has been his baby since 2007, and the new album, Presence, shows that Evans is present.

The band, named after Evan’s father’s favorite brand of tobacco, is a hodge-podge mix of prominent Philadelphia musicians and some hard-hitters on the New York jazz scene. Obviously the sound of a band of this caliber is going to be tight, but the live atmosphere of the recording brings the true goose bumps. Everything on Presence was recorded live at SOUTH Kitchen and Jazz Parlor and Chris’ Jazz Café.

The title track of the album is a true big band swing with a modern, edgy touch. It was composed by trumpeter Josh Lawrence, who also arranged two other tunes on this record: Evan’s journey of a song called “Answer,” and the Eric Revis composition “Question,” which starts sultry, but also takes on a life of its own. Yes, I thought the same thing that you did with these titles. Maybe Orrin will be able to answer our question.

To use the words that come to mind to describe this album would make one picture these musicians to be a bunch of hooligans loudly running through the streets with instruments. Rousing, daring, bold – they are all meant with the best of intention.  These musicians are at the top of their game, and the compositions allow them to showcase what a big band show could sound like – with vision.


Piano and Leader - Orrin Evans

Saxophones - Caleb Curtis, Todd Bashore, Troy Roberts

Trumpets - John Raymond, Josh Lawrence, Bryan Davis

Trombones - David Gibson, Stafford Hunter, Brent White

Bass - Madison Rast

Drums - Anwar Marshall, Jason Brown