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Orrin Evans pursues the Magic of Now

Orrin Evans "The Magic of Now"
Smoke Sessions Records
courtesy of the artist
Orrin Evans "The Magic of Now"

Pianist/composer/bandleader Orrin Evans changes directions on his latest album and takes on a two-year artist residency with the DC Jazz Festival.

Pianist and bandleader Orrin Evans leads a multi-generational quartet for his latest album, “The Magic of Now,” with bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Bill Stewart and 23-year-old alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins.

It’s Evans’ sixth album for Smoke Sessions, and the 20th of the 46-year-old pianist-composer’s career.

Recorded in the midst of the upheavals set in motion by the COVID-19 pandemic, this latest document of Evans’ artistic journey coincides with several changes in his life, perhaps the most significant change being his decision to leave the popular trio The Bad Plus after three rewarding years, in order to focus his time and energy on his own multiple musical projects.

“People have had to make adjustments and be reborn to a certain extent,” Evans says. “We’re past the point where we didn’t know what was going on or what the future would look like. Now we’re settling into what our ‘new normal’ will be, embracing the magic of now and the shape of what will happen next.”

Evans’ next adventure will be as the artist-in-residence for the DC Jazz Festival, a two-year term made possible by the Jazz Road Creative Residencies program created by South Arts.

“Making music has always been an essential part of my life, but presenting music is also a passion,” Evans said. “The chance to create and fellowship with the music scene in D.C. is a welcome one, and I am so excited about the possibilities. My sincere thanks to South Arts and DC Jazz Festival for the opportunity.”

A major component of the residency will highlight Evans’ group, the Captain Black Big Band.

Evans plans to promote a musical and cultural exchange between Washington, D.C., and his hometown of Philadelphia. He will also conduct a master class as part of DC Jazz Festival Education and participate in DCJF’s “We Get To Talk” podcast series with host Sunny Sumter, CEO of the festival.

Additionally, Evans will premiere a new work, engaging in creative partnerships with D.C.’s artist community, including cross-discipline engagements. These will include pop-up performances with D.C. artists throughout the residency and a series of performances outside of the festival.

The Captain Black Big Band, with a special guest vocalist, will also perform on the main stage of the 2022 DC JazzFest.

Listen for Orrin Evans on KNKX Midday and Evening Jazz programs.

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.