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SEED/SEED (022793)

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Personnel: Orrin Evans, piano; Mike Boone, bass; Rodney Green, drums; DAWN, vocals (4). Special guests: Gary Bartz, alto sax (2 & 5); Ralph Bowen, tenor sax (2 & 5); Duane Eubanks, trumpet (5); Branford Marsalis, soprano sax (3); Jaleel Shaw, alto sax (4).

Tracks: 1. T.C.'s Blues (Orrin Evans) 8:24; 2. Prayer for Columbine (Orrin Evans) 10:57; 3. Boffadem (Orrin Evans) 12:15; 4. Hello, It's Me (Todd Rundgren) 10:12; 5. When It Comes (Orrin Evans) 12:39; 6. Commitment (Orrin Evans) 5:15; 7. Libra (Orrin Evans) 8:07; 8. Boffadem (dialogue) 0:32

Executive Producers: Orrin Evans & Tony Haywood. Producers: Orrin Evans, Mike Boone & John Venore. Recorded May 25 & 26, 2000, at Acoustical Concepts, Chester, PA. Artwork by Tomiko Toliver and EZRA. Graphic design by Kathy Ridl.


The sound of Orrin Evans’ piano is restless. His latest trio, Seed, features original compositions that have an unsettled quality. Like Horace Tapscott’s explorations of the 1970’s or Andrew Hill in the 1960’s, this band pushes an expansive enthusiasm for new jazz. Evans' keyboard work reminds me of a very propulsive Thelonious Monk mixed with the percussive elements of Herbie Hancock. His prior records, all four on the Criss Cross label (and all worth searching for), showcase a superstar in the making. He made a name for himself in Bobby Watson and Ralph Peterson’s bands and has recently toured with vibraphonist Stephon Harris. His Seed bandmates include bassist Mike Boone (Buddy Rich Band) and drummer Rodney Green (Greg Osby).

While this outing is loaded with guests, the three trio tracks may be the highlights, showcasing a muscular attack and a time-changing interaction on “T.C.’s Blues,” “Commitment,” a three-directional, very modern jaunt, and “Libra” the most tender of ballads. Evans, like fellow young pianist Jason Moran, seem to have absorbed the theories of Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk and applied them to a concerted trio sound ala Bill Evans. They take group interplay and swinging group improvisation to crisp new heights.

If you are a fan of Evans, the trio’s 22-minutes is plenty of draw. But wait there’s more! His guest musicians augment the trio and add a distinct blowing session factor. Saxophonist Branford Marsalis, who doesn’t get enough attention for his soprano playing steps up on “Boffadem” (as opposed to ‘one-of-them’) to play smooth counter to the bands angles. Unknown (to me) alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw joins wife of Evans and vocalist Dawn for a cover of Todd Rundgren’s “Hello It’s Me.” Slowing the time, like so many Cassandra Wilson cover projects, reworks his rock classic into a wholly believable jazz song. The highlight of the guest spots is the tag team of saxophonists Gary Bartz and Ralph Bowen. They post a workout on two tracks, Bartz’ biting lines matched with Bowen’s perfect elocution. Trumpeter Duane Eubanks joins the pair on “When It Comes” for a post/hard/bop aggressive piece sure to frighten any musician even thinking of sitting in with the band in his seat.

— Mark Corroto, AllAboutJazz.com

Such cooperative bands as Seed - ensembles where there is no designated "leader," which operate in an all-for-one manner - are the exception rather than the rule these days . . . In the case of Seed we have four promising young musicians who have determined to forge a co-op band and who can hopefully grow together within this promising, fertile context. Their debut outing is a good start.

— Willard Jenkins, Africana.com. Click here to read the complete review and listen to audio samples from the CD. Also, check out Willard Jenkins' own Open Sky site for other news and insights concerning the world of jazz.

Seed is the brainchild of pianist Orrin Evans and his wife, Dawn, a singer who performs under her first name. The group is a departure from Evans’s regular output on the Criss Cross label, but Seed’s music — almost all of it composed by Evans — bristles with the same sort of free-spirited improvisational fire. On this debut release, Evans, Dawn, bassist Mike Boone, and drummer Rodney Green, all listed as the group’s core members, are joined by an illustrious crew of special guests. Three of the numbers, "T.C.’s Blues," "Commitment," and "Libra," feature Evans in a trio setting. Tenorist Ralph Bowen — one of jazz’s best kept secrets — and altoist Gary Bartz join on the colorful, swaying "Prayer for Columbine" and the abstract, high-energy blues "When It Comes." The latter also features strong playing by trumpeter Duane Eubanks. Branford Marsalis, on soprano saxophone, comes on board for "Boffadem," a gliding Afro-Latin theme based on a riff that alternates between 5/4 and 6/4. The meaning of the title becomes clear upon listening to the final track, "Boffadem (dialogue)."

Dawn is featured on an ethereal ballad version of Todd Rundgren’s "Hello, It’s Me." There’s a line in the song that ends, "and spend the night if you think I should," which Dawn changes to, "and spend the night with you if you want me to." This slight alteration loses the poetic urgency of the original, although the strength and beauty of Dawn’s voice are undeniable.

With its connotations of organic unity and germinal beginnings, Seed is an apt name for this band, and a viable framework for some of the most representative music of Orrin Evans’s career to date. As a musical partnership between Evans and Dawn, moreover, it bodes well for the future.

David R. Adler, All Music Guide

"SEED" Liner Notes, by Mike Boone:

I once told a writer that jazz was the closest thing I have to religion. Having said that, I feel that this CD brings together some of the true ministers of jazz, young and older.

Upon first glance, this may seem like another all-star session, with its collection of "marquee" players. However, this is not the case. Each musician wanted to be part of this and there was a genuine feeling of camaraderie in the room. The climate, the soil, and the people were correct and made it conduscive for the musical seed to grow.

Which brings us to the group SEED.

The group SEED consists of Orrin Evans on piano, DAWN on vocals, Rodney Green on drums and myself, Mike Boone, on bass.

DAWN is from Pittsburgh and has lived in Europe. I am from East Harlem, NY, and have lived in Philadelphia for the past 18 years. Orrin is originally from Trenton, NJ, and resides in Philadelphia. Rodney grew up in Pennsauken, NJ, and now resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Now we four have come together on our own to plant a special seed in the "garden" of music. While Orrin wrote the compositions, each musician brings his/her experiences to the table to create a sound that embraces freedom and individualism. After all, isn't that what democracy and Jazz should be about?

SEED knows that jazz is something that has been inside of us. We also know that jazz is about more than altered chords, odd time signatures, an air of pretentiousness, and musical hybrids that dilute the true essence of the art form.

The guest artists on this record, all creative and experienced individuals in their own right, share a commitment to the concept that SEED is developing. The result is music that is undeniably on the cutting edge, while maintaining a serious groove.

This session confirms my belief that jazz is indeed a spiritual art form. Jazz is music of the earth, and rooted in truth!

SEED is available for sale online exclusively in the HiPNOTIC.com Record Shop!