RINGER OF THE WEEK
- While this collection represents a tribute to Bill Evans' compositions, Jim Norton could easily have subtitled this as a remembrance of another Evans, Gil. The woodwind/bandleader here focuses on the famed pianists work as a writer, but Norgon brings together a big band that includes enough brass and reeds to bring to mind vintage sessions like Miles Ahead and Porgy and Bess from the Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaborations. And, there's really nothing wrong with that!
John Shifflett's bass along with Scott Sorkin's guitar make for a wonderful rice pilaf for the horns on the gentle and cozy "Fudgesickle Built for Four" while the muted textures and playful rhythms on "Journey to Recife" make room for Kris Strom's alto flute and John Worley's autumnal flugelhorn. The fluffy reeds meld with Jason Lewis' brushes on "NYC's No Lark" and the band bops with a touch of blues to Norton's clarinet on "Walkin' Up." Sorkin's guitar is palpably delicate on "Bill's Hit Tune" and the gentle shifts in and out of waltz time on "Comrade Conrad' make for wonderful moments for Jeff Cressman/tb an dLuis Fasman/fh. The fun swing of "34 Skidoo" takes you in and out of grooves as well, with a playful atmosphere among sophisticated harmonies and Charlie McCarthy's full toned tenor. Intelligent, but not geeky.