August 6, 2009

Bill Evans Soulgrass

This past Tuesday, I caught Bill Evans’ Soulgrass at Jimmy Mak’s.  I had seen the band in NYC a couple years ago, albeit in a slightly different format.  They were playing at the Blue Note, and Evans had managed to gather some of the top session guys in the country to play in the band including Sam Bush on mandolin, Tony Trischka on banjo, Richard Bona on bass, Christian Howes on fiddle, and Dave Weckl on drums.  I went a couple nights in a row (shelling out a pretty hefty cover charge, I might mention) and saw some of the best music I’ve ever seen.

While the Portland concert this week didn’t boast names quite as big (although Mark Egan on bass was a nice surprise), the music was just as good.  I love hearing Evans’ fusion of jazz and bluegrass – two of the styles of music that I’ve been most interested in for the past few years.

I’ve been thinking again about making a CD, and hearing music like this always makes me think about what my intentions are going to be.  On a recent trip to Coos Bay with Darrell Grant, we had a discussion about how the music we enjoy isn’t lazy; it’s not just a quartet or trio getting together to play the same standards in the same way: melody, solo, solo, trade fours, melody, tag.  Soulgrass is definitely not lazy.  The melodies are complex but singable and melodic and the arrangements are thought-out and contoured.

So, whatever I do, whether it is a bluegrass fusion record or a swinging piano/sax duo, it won’t be lazy.

Bill Evans and Soulgrass at Jimmy Mak'ssee more photos from the event at the gallery in JazzPDX.org