Bill Evans - The Other Side of Something
Order number: INT 34162
Check this album out on Finetunes or iTunes if you prefer mp3s.
A world-class saxophonist who first made his mark during the 1980s with such jazz greats as Miles Davis and John McLaughlin, Bill Evans has continued to explore a variety of adventurous settings as a bandleader, from slamming funk-fusion to hip-hop-jazz to the wholly unique hybrid of bluegrass, jazz, funk and soul which he premiered on 2006’s Grammy-nominated Soulgrass. On his followup to that widely acclaimed project, Evans pushes the envelope a little further in that direction on The Other Side Of Something.
“It’s an extension of Soulgrass,” he says of his latest release. “I am always trying to push the envelope and take the music somewhere it hasn’t been before. I am just beginning to explore all of the possibilities. I have been touring a lot over the last two years, using the banjo and fiddle as my rhythm instruments, so by the time I started writing new music for the new CD, I was over-flowing with ideas. One of the first ideas I had was to sing for the first time on one one of my CDs. The saxophone and voice are very similar in range so it seemed like a very natural thing for me to do. It is, of course, another instrument so I have been working very hard at it. People will hear a new side to me that they have never heard before. For me, it is an exciting new step in a totally new direction.”
Evans began singing last year on his world wide Soulgrass tour, Evans steps front and center to deliver strong, confident vocals on four tracks -- the energized opener “Easy Way Out,” the rocking “Ode To The Working Man,” the strong and dramatic “No Where To Go” and the reflective “Walk In To The Light,” which also reveals a philosophical bent as a lyricist. “Voice is another instrument, and it’s an element that can really connect with an audience on many levels. Just something about the human voice that really connects.”
This intriguing blend of bluegrass, funk, rock and soul heard on The Other Side Of Something comes across at times like Tower of Power meets The Flecktones. With the sound of banjo prominent in the mix, Evans underscores the proceedings with tight sax section arrangements which has him overdubbing tenor, alto and baritone sax parts. Banjo innovative Bela Fleck, founder of The Flecktones and a key presence on Soulgrass, appears on three tracks -- “Way Out East,” “Dance Of The Leprechaun” and “How The West Was One.” Elsewhere, Ryan Cavannaugh provides the all-important banjo sound for this dynamic hybrid project. Virtuoso fretless electric bassist Richard Bona appears on the lyrical ballad “Sweet Tea,” the jazzy “Kinda Green”(with special guest trumpeter Randy Brecker) and the super-charged closer “Slippery Bigs Forever” while Victor Wooten, The Flecktones’ resident bass monster, supplies the low-end groove alongside Santana drummer Dennis Chambers on the rest of the tracks. Other special guests on The Other Side Of Something include Nashville session ace Sam Bush on mandolin and Pat Bergeson on guitar (reprising their roles from Soulgrass), Christian Howes on fiddle, Joel Rosenblatt on drums and Jim Beard on keyboards. Trumpeter Randy Brecker, Evans’s co-leader in the Soulbop band, makes a special guest appearance on one track, the jazzy “Kinda Green,” which also features a nasty, distortion-laced violin solo from Howes and a bracing tenor solo from Bill.
“I am reaching a much larger audience now, which includes people interested in not only jazz but many of the grassroots styles of music indigenous to the United States. I hear so many ways to use the banjo and fiddle in my band that are not common to any certain form or style of music. We sort of cross all styles and blend them together to form our band that I call Soulgrass. That is why I call the CD The Other Side Of Something…there is no name for what we do yet. I love it.”