Oct Nov Dec 2017
By Robert D. Rusch
GABE EVENS [p] has issued a thoughtful trio [Lynn Seaton-b, Ed Soph-drm] release in THE WRONG WALTZ [no label 805996 869927]. This album of 10 originals [50:19] which at moments brings Herbie Nichols to mind in that at times there is an analytical feel to the music. Evens is affiliated with the University of Louisville. Academia seems to be a perching position for many a solid jazz artist and a refuge from the rat race all but a few are part of, scrambling as needed to exist. The downside to an academic gig is one’s artistry becomes almost invisible. A prime example being Bill Dixon who even though established as a leader, in the post bop developments prior of the late 1960s, once he took a professorship he was almost invisible until the mid 1990s. On this release Evens displays a wide breath of piano technique and even on the more commercial approaches it is not without interest. Seaton and Soph give excellent support. Recorded 10/7/16
Evens’ first release was a CDR recorded 6/10-12/97 called CONNECTION [no label, no number] and was recorded in his living room (nothing wrong with that) with John Brown [b] and Bobby Cohen [drm]. Made up of 8 originals and 3 standards [68:43] one of which is Ellington’s “Pie Eye’s Blues”, a tune Ellington recorded 3 times in 1959 and then seemed to drop it. A pleasant set but missing the sense of gravitas of The Wrong Waltz.
Also from Evens is MOBIUS [no label 788037-0124- 24]. This is a quartet [ Ray Codrington-tpt, Don Gladstone-b, Bobby Cohen-drm] date  and again there are 3 standards among the 12 tracks [68:11]. Here there is an assuredness of attack by the pianist. Added appeal for me is the presence of Ray Codrington who I remember from the JFK quintet back in the early 60s. Here he plays on half the tracks, his ideas are rich but his embouchure does not sound strong. As a whole CD this is rather uneven, reaching its nadir on “Freedom Jazz Dance” which just falls apart. It’s unfortunate because when Evens is on—he is very strong. On the other hand, the quartet’s cover of “Smile” is very interesting. Imperfect but not without interest.
Next up for Evens a 2011 recording named STICKY BLUEBERRY FINGERS [no label no number]. This is solo over 13 tracks [49:05] all originals except for “No Moon At All” and “Green Dolphin Street”. Presented here is a far more intricate pianist full of twists and turns and shading and using a variety of musical types suggesting boogie woogie, Chicago blues and stomps, modern deconstructions and a suggestion of some baroque classicalism. I particularly enjoyed the standards as they offered a reference point and context and were most enjoyable. The artist here hardly sounds related to the pianist on Connection.
Evens admits to going for a more commercial appeal on THE COSMIC RIGHTEOUSNESS OF ROARING TIGERS [University Of Malaya 728028 236767]. The 11 tracks [56:41] are all originals and on the funky side. Funky perhaps, but not the commercial trash usually associated with it. Some of this is excellent, wonderfully arranged and with humor—even a sense of Mingus. The sextet performs with verve and dynamism. The players [Patrick Terbrack-as, Erik Hargrove-drm, Marques Young-tbn, Greg Lyons-ts, Christy Smith-b] are, I believe are from the Pacific Northwest and were in the area of Kuala Lumpur where Evens at that time was living. Unusual backbeats and energy of this recording gets tiring and it is best to take this fun with listening breaks.
Gabe Evens teams up with AARON HEDENSTROM [ss/as/ts] on THE LIVING ROOM SESSIONS [Shifting Paradigm Records sp-128], a 5/13&14/16 recording. The program of 10 tracks [56:41] is made up of 5 Evens’ originals and 5 by Hedenstrom and played by a quartet [Jack Helsley-b, Matt Young-drm]. Recorded in Evens’ living room, it comes full circle with Connection except as an artist, Evens has traveled many miles since that recording. The understanding, writes Hedenstrom, was to record focusing on feeling and interplay with less emphasis on technical precision, and there are some technical glitches here. Musically, this is fairly conservative, with Hedenstrom’s compositions nice enough. Hedenstrom, whose alto is quite Phil Woods-ish, really takes no chances. Evens comps, slyly at times, but on the Evens composition the writing is less conventional and has a mysterious quality. Hedenstrom’s alto again shines and seems more adventuresome occasionally following a line and only at the last moment extracting himself from its dead end.
Based on these 6 recordings made over a 20 year period, done without the glare of much publicity or critical scrutiny, Evens has allowed himself to be himself and in turn form an individual identity. Play yourself and grow.
All About Jazz
June 15, 2017
By Geannine Reid
Gabe Evens: The Wrong Waltz Gabe Evens is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano, Composition and Arranging at the University of Louisville, Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program. Evens is a pianist with a vibrant and robust approach to his composing and playing and his command of harmony and trio playing is simply amazing. The Wrong Waltz is Evens album of ten original compositions for piano trio with a wide variety of styles: bebop, hard-bop, fusion, and modal genres. The music is lyrical, takes unexpected twists and turns -conveys a strong mood, and feels boundless.
Joined by able bassist Lynn Seaton and the empathetic Ed Soph on drums, Evens constructs a fine balance of harmonically rich originals with beautiful singing melodies for the trio to converse through. “Tease Me” opens the set, it’s a sophisticated swinger that is harmonically informed and features Evens playing flowing improvised lines, with clarity and style. His improvising style is thoughtful as the trio builds to a musical climax. Seaton makes a musical statement, covering a wide range and incorporating musical double stops. The trio trades eights after Seaton’s solo, Soph’s drumming is swinging, interactive and full of energy.
“Loud, Quiet, Loud in Blue” is a fine composition by Evens that uses hits, pedal points, and Seaton doubles Evens right hand for some parts with great result. Seaton and Soph subtly push forward and relax at all the right moments, setting up Evens playing that is modern, soulful, strutting and magically melodic. Seaton performs a rich arco solo that is bluesy and entertaining with flurries, wide leaps and much interaction with Evens.
“Keep Your Head Down” is a swirling straight eight selection that displays Evens subtle compositional mastery. The counterpoint between the doubled bass line and the melody is very effective. The shifting time and arching phrases build energy. Evens solo is lyrical and as methodical in development of motifs and themes, as is the written melody, giving the entire selection a strong cohesive sound that entertains and inspires.
The title track is an up-tempo waltz that has a fresh form and swingable melody. Seaton’s clear bass sound takes the first solo. His playing is virtuosic and confident. Both Evens and Soph interact and help build his solo to a logical conclusion. Evens continues in the same mind set for his solo. Constantly listening to Soph and Seaton for inspiration and developmental elements to incorporate into his lines, harmony, and rhythmic activity. The trio certainly has their own sound and the joy and respect they have for each other is tangible and empathetic.
Track Listing: Tease Me; The Wrong Waltz; Stand at the Front of Your Mat; Something Like Love; Loud, Quiet, Loud in Blue; Keep Your Head Down; Yoko and the Spotless, Spotless Clan; Billy Strayhorn; The Goodbye Hug; Untrained, Untrodden, Untrue.
5 Finger Review
March 5, 2018
By Elberton Cisnero
An Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano, Composition and Arranging at the University of Louisville, Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program, Gabe Evens is a pianist with a vivacious and full-bodied approach to composing and playing, his facility on piano and grasp of harmony is enlightened. His latest endeavor The Wrong Waltz is ten wholly-original compositions for the piano trio setting, with a varied demonstration of bebop, hard-bop, fusion, and modal genres. The music is poignant, and offers unforeseen paths, but still conveys strong moods, and boundless ideas.
Bassist, Lynn Seaton and drummer Ed Soph join Evens, in constructing a fine balance of sophisticated, flowing improvisations. Evens is thoughtful and builds each tune with memorable climaxes. His work on The Wrong Waltz is among the finest feats of extraordinary breadth and nobility – certainly on the piano. One of the most striking aspects of Evens’ approach to piano music is his inerrant sense of timing. There is no rush, every sparkling detail is savored at leisure, without a trace of decadent indulgence.
Lyrical passages, such as those played on “Something Like Love,” so often defeated by the weight of misplaced rubato, here speak with an earnest ardor, lending them a disarming youthful freshness. That said, tempos are amply pliant and rubato, when applied, is richly fertile. The rhythmic spine of the material always remains intact, so that rhetorical thrust is never lost to detail. (Here, having both Lynn Seaton on bass and Ed Soph on drums helps enormously). Finally, Evens’ presto leggiero in fioritura passages is never short of perfection.
The scrupulously observed dotted semiquaver/demisemiquaver figures in “Loud, Quiet, Loud in Blue,” the heroic-elegiac passages on “Billy Strayhorn” fix the character and dignity of each piece with utmost flawlessness. Feather-like pianissimo glissando’s in the playful “Yoko and the Spotless, Spotless Clan” are brilliantly executed, while the sustained resonances of the notes disperse into the air like pungent incense. Shapeliness characterizes “The Goodbye Hug,” its opening declamations bold and square-shouldered rather than strident.
Most remarkable throughout the program is how the entire lassaú of the works unfolds in an integral, coherent whole, rather than the stopping and starting of a series of mini-climaxes. Lest we forget that this is a trio recording and not a solo piano one, recognition must go to Seaton and Soph, the former playing pizzicato and arco with extraordinary facility and greater ingenuity, while both emerge as highly individualistic players whose enigmatic utterances are like smouldering fire that affords considerable heat.
These are fresh, strikingly original works for piano and played with remarkable definition in a trio setting by a group of musicians who have invested considerable magic in these opulently evocative pieces which will surely be welcomed as unique, in 21st century piano literature.
Tracks to sample first: “Tease Me,” “Billy Strayhorn,” and “The Goodbye Hug.” The song to take a chance on is “Keep Your Head Down.”
July 18, 2017
By Susan Frances
Classical pianist Gabe Evens flexes his prowess as a composer of modal jazz on his new release, The Wrong Waltz. Implementing modal jazz principles demonstrates Evens’ skill as an improviser, as he relies on his wit to come up with notes purely invented in his mind and played over a melodic theme performed by bassist Lynn Seaton and drummer Ed Soph. The art form tests the musicians’ acquaintance with honing arrangements, knowing the range of their respective instruments and understanding how to manipulate the course of their notes. Evens’ work combines structured patterns with his skill to invent notations, making his talent most appreciated in scholarly circles.
The compositions show a different type of lyricism than most audiences are accustomed to, one that the musicians sense but not necessarily one that listeners can grasp. “Tease Me” has a jumping jive rhythm, which, combined with Evens’ fast-paced twinkling keys make for an upbeat atmosphere. Though the trio come together to create a jovial vibe, the keys pave its own path, moving in a direction apart from the drums and bass. At times, the listener is torn between following the bopping beats of the bass and the rapping taps of the keys. Evens uses the piano keys the way a rap artist uses his vocals, to form impromptu verses.
The modish slant of “Stand at the Front of Your Mat” has the threesome jiggling and jutting, brandishing shapely figures in a suave penmanship. The conversational exchanges between the keys and the bass in “Loud, Quiet, Loud in Blue” invite the audience into the playful banter, performing in a manner that listeners can follow and experience the fun propagated by the musicians. “Keep Your Head Down” and “Billy Strayhorn” evoke quiet contemplation in the listener and change to a swinging rhythm in “The Goodbye Hug,” showing a flare for the merriment of classic jazz idioms.
As a practitioner of the modal jazz method, Evens is prolific at inventing notations with zing embedded in them. He shows glimpses of returning to classic jazz idioms but leans a bulk of his work towards the improvisational side of the jazz spectrum. Evens shakes up standard thoughts governing jazz music. He adds his own personal touch to the formula, stoking the concept of inventing notes that may seem misplaced in the music but serve the purpose of exercising freedom of expression.
MidWest Record Volume 40/Number 269
July 28, 2017
By Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher
GABE EVENS TRIO/Wrong Waltz: A jazzbo piano man that sowed his wild oats before settling down to a life of academe (without letting it go to his head), he leads his trio through a zesty date that sounds like what’s playing down at your fave club where the piano man not only knows how to swing but is always full of surprises to keep your ears on their toes. Solid stuff that swings with a wink and a smile, Evens has loads of jazz at his command and he’s not shy about rolling his chops out for you. Deceptively simple and thoroughly delectable, there’s always room for some killer jazz piano playing standing out front and center. Hot stuff.
July 31, 2017
By Dodie Miller-Gould
Gabe Evens Trio’s “The Wrong Waltz,” is the group’s new CD that captures the intelligence, creativity, and energy of the ensemble. The title track, “Stand at the Front of Your Mat,” and ” Yoko and the Spotless, Spotless Clan” are excellent examples from Gabe Evens Trio’s sixth album. All the songs are original on “The Wrong Waltz.”
The Gabe Evens Trio is comprised of Gabe Evens on piano, Lynn Seaton on bass, and Ed Soph on drums. The group’s members have earned awards in jazz—bassist Seaton has been nominated for a Grammy, and drummer Soph has been inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame. Evens is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano at the University of Louisville. Evens has performed throughout the United States and internationally. He has also performed in various locations in Asia and Europe. Evens has performed with several philharmonic orchestras and the University of Miami Concert Jazz band.
“The Wrong Waltz”: Gabe Evens Trio
The piano jumps in bright and fresh. The notes sprinkle from the piano, and at first, listeners might not notice the galloping and sometimes brooding bass. The drums are played crisp with a touch of cymbal crash. The bass is showcased—at times it matches what the drums are doing. After several moments of interplay, the piano takes the lead again.
The title of the song prompts clever responses to it: “The Wrong Waltz” sounds right to jazz fans, or something else equally pun-like. However, the pun is true. Nothing sounds “wrong” about the track. All the notes sound right and each player sounds engaged in the overall work that is going into making the piece.
“Stand at the Front of Your Mat”
Muscular drum work opens the piece. Then, the song seems to zip with the quick swing of the piano. The drums switch approaches, and the bass plays with it. The very high, very fast piano notes are brought down because of the bass solo. They build again, cascading into the swinging motif from earlier in the song. The drum beats are strong, and they stick with the bass until the song comes to its conclusion.
“Yoko and the Spotless, Spotless Clan”
The moody piano ushers listeners into the song. Sparse notes are high and struck with seeming discord. The piano groove turns into a kind of Latin dance line. The piano motif winds around again, and the drums clatter and roll in ways that don’t pair easily with the piano. If listeners go back a second time, they can hear where the bass gets moody and takes the piece over a bit, roughly halfway through. When the song is not creating the big waves, going up and down with the piano or bass leading the way, it returns to the Latin groove.
With the use of improvisation tactics, and with thoughtful songwriting and arranging, Gabe Evens Trio shows they understand how jazz works. The album is replete with different moods and variations and the overall effect is exciting. Evens shows his skill as a leader on the recording, and in recruiting Seaton and Soph to play with him.
The Vinyl Anachronist
September 30, 2017
By Marc Phillips
This one came at the right time, after countless jazz releases that seem a little too perfect, a little too accomplished. That’s not to say these guys are sloppy and wild, just adventurous–like in the ’50s and ’60s when everything seemed so new. You know the risks that are being taken, and that creates a stronger interaction between performer and listener.
Gabe Evens is certainly no slouch when it comes to mining the history of jazz. Evens is an associate professor of jazz piano, composition and arrangement at the University of Louisville’s famed Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program. He’s also performed all over the world. He has the chops, he’s paid his dues, he’s done whatever he’s expected to do to earn respect as a jazz pianist. That said, his approach to these ten original tunes isn’t as academic as you would think. Or, perhaps, that’s the point–Evens, along with bassist Lynn Seaton and drummer Ed Soph, knows that the foundations of jazz aren’t grounded in logic and reason and structure. It’s about catching the whirlwind and finding places no one else has been.
It sounds like I’m describing chaos once again, but I’m not. The macro-structure of the music is intact, with themes and improvisations that sound fully comfortable within the be-bop canon. The inspiration is in the tiny details, especially when you take the time to isolate what each performer is doing at any given point. That’s right…as a whole this sounds musical, lyrical, whatever you want to call it, but it’s the Drummer’s Drummer Syndrome where amazing things are happening in the margins if you know what you’re looking for.
The best way to sum this up is to say this is perfect jazz, which doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means. By perfect I mean it pushes you to look in the crevices and find out what’s hiding in the dark. It’s music that’s meant for up-close and careful listening, otherwise you might just mistake this for any number of perfect, accomplished contemporary jazz releases. It’s not. It’s better than that.
By Bruce Von Stiers
Gabe Evens is a pianist and a professor in the Jazz Studies program at the University of Louisville. But he is also a composer and band leader. Gabe currently heads up the Gabe Evens Trio. They have recently released an album titled The Wrong Waltz.
This is the sixth album of original material that Gabe has recorded. It is an interesting cross section of jazz, from fusion to bop to modal. Gabe is self-releasing the album.
Gabe wrote all of the compositions on the album. There are ten songs on the album and it has a play-time of fifty minutes. For the trio Gabe plays piano. He is joined on bass by Lynn Seaton and on drums by Ed Soph. Ed has worked with Clark Terry and Randy Becker among other notables and recorded albums with people such as Joe Henderson. The list of people that Lynn has played with and recorded with would fill an entire paragraph.
Tease Me is a fast paced song with a lot of piano. It is the first song you hear on the album.
The title track, The Wrong Waltz, is an interesting piece. You might think it would be a waltz with some jazz thrown in. But no, it is a solid jazz song with some pretty tough bass and head bopping piano.
About the first twenty seconds of Stand at the Front of Your Mat is a cool drum solo. Then things kick into a laid back groove with great piano. I think that this is my favorite song of the album.
Over a minute at the front of the song Something Like Love is dedicated to a bass solo. The song has a fairly slow pace and features all three of the players.
Loud, Quiet, Loud in Blue is a toe tapping piano based tune.
Keep You Head Down is kind of moody, with strong piano and bass with symbols from the drummer.
Yoko and the Spotless, Spotless Clan is sort of a bossa nova styled song, but a touch bit darker.
Soft and gentle, Billy Strayhorn is a great song to memorialize its namesake.
The Goodbye Hug is a nice medium paced piece.
Closing out the album is Untrained, Untrodden, Untrue. It showcases Gabe’s piano well, along with the great bass and drums.
With a title like The Wrong Waltz I expected some waltz music with sideways jazz. What I got was a very solid jazz album. Gabe’s piano playing is great and is complemented extremely well by Lynn’s bass and Ed’s drumming.
You can grab a copy of The Wrong Waltz on CD Baby.
November 17, 2017
By Paul Wilson
Gabe Evens, who is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Composition and Arranging at the University of Louisville, has traveled the world playing in jazz combos and philharmonic orchestras alike. In his latest self released work titled “The Wrong Waltz,” Evens, along with Grammy Award winning bassist Lynn Seaton, and Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame drummer Ed Soph, offer up ten tracks of pure traditional, pure emotional, adrenalin priming jazz. Flavors of bebop, fusion jazz, and pure jazz in the fine tradition of three man combos are evident in each track. While an energy driven presentation is mostly evident, there also exists several soulful, more melodic tracks as well. Evans is a stellar pianist, and Soph and Seaton follow along on drums, and bass, respectively, to highly successful results. Those who like traditional jazz with a little bit of a kick will certainly enjoy “The Wrong Waltz.” I sure did.
January 2, 2018
By Adorjan Horvát
Pianist and composer Gabe Evens is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano, Composition and Arranging at the University of Louisville, Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program. Evens is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, which is a process that attempts to develop the ability to avoid unnecessary muscular tension by retraining physical movement reactions. Evens holds an MA in Jazz Piano Performance from the University of Miami, and a DMA in Performance, major in Jazz studies (composition emphasis) from the University of North Texas. Evens has released his sixth album of original compositions, The Wrong Waltz. The album is presented in a piano trio format featuring: Lynn Seaton on acoustic bass, Ed Soph on drums, and Gabe Evens on piano. The compositions traverse a wide variety of styles, elements from bebop, hard-bop, fusion, and modal genres can all be heard throughout the music. Evens creates something enjoyable for all music lovers, that’s the short of it!
The Jazz Word
January 9, 2018
By Roland Freerier
Gabe Evens is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano, Composition and Arranging at the University of Louisville, Jamey Aebersold Jazz Studies Program. Evens is a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, and holds an MA in Jazz Piano Performance from the University of Miami, and a DMA in Performance major, in Jazz studies (composition emphasis) from the University of North Texas. He has recently released a trio album entitled, The Wrong Waltz with Lynn Seaton on acoustic bass and Ed Soph on drums. The album presents 10 original Evens compositions and is a gem of modern trio playing.
The wide variety of styles reflects a deep knowledge of the jazz trio tradition, from bebop, hard-bop, fusion, to modal. The music is lyrical, takes unexpected twists and turns, conveys a strong mood, and feels great.
The title track finds the trio effortlessly negotiating Evens waltz timed melody. The trio has a buoyancy and interaction that is straight from the Bill Evans lineage. Soph’s brush work is excellent during Seaton’s bass solo, giving rhythmic propulsion while allowing Seaton’s crafty lines to be heard while still being supported. Evens’ solo builds in both melodic complexity and register. His lines are clear and accented with well-placed left hand chordal accents. The interaction between Evens and Seaton is a harmonic and melodic conversation that will keep you entertained and smiling.
The trio gets into full hard swing mode for “Loud, Quiet, Loud in Blue.” This melody has everything: strong memorable lines, nice band hits, interesting form and a swinging rhythm that kills! Seaton unsheathes his bow for his solo with good effect. Nice upper register playing, and he adds a tone of personality in his bow ornaments and effects. Again, the conversation between Evens and Seaton is excellent. Evens solo swings so hard that you will want to clear a space to move, because something is going to be a’ boppin’. This is a fun track that shows the trio’s playful side.
A swinging date that keeps the flow nicely, with compelling originals and solid interaction between the players for a swinging good time.
February 6, 2018
By Icrom Bigrad
Gabe Evens is a jazz pianist, educator and composer that is dedicated to the past and present language of jazz. Evens and his trio, Lynn Seaton on acoustic bass and Ed Soph on drums, continue to keep the music going for future generations. Evens CD, The Wrong Waltz, finds the pianist composing ten original compositions for the trio to have in-depth musical conversations. Evens is an intensely buoyant presence in the music, with his articulated right hand, melodic structures and his colorful harmonies, The Gabe Evens Trio will certainly please any aficionado!
“Stand at the Front of Your Mat” finds the trio in a funky swing setting with Evens digging in and striking a perfect balance between blues, bop and post-bop linear patterns. However, Evens is just as good at playing in the spaces, and maturity of playing is what makes him special. The harmonies of the track are familiar in progression, but Evens voicings give them life and movement. Evens lyrical playing and interaction with Seaton and Soph is full of the fundamental values of jazz trio playing.
“Keep Your Head Down” is a wonderful multi-layered composition that finds the trio in a straight eight setting with nice rhythmic shifts. Evens approaches his solo playing with a full-bodied sound and in an unpretentious manner, letting the music direct the mood and intensity. The trio builds though, Evens solo has a very satisfying shape as it seamlessly segues back into the melody before moving to a closing statement.
The trio can swing! The title track finds the trio in a swing waltz setting that features a swiftly moving Evens melody, that is boppish in nature. Evens’ interaction with the trio is again outstanding, these guys listen and interact deeply. Evens creates confidently played and artfully shaped melodies that are musical and full of energy and heart from his nimble piano playing fingers!
A solid trio outing, with three venerable players, adds up to a satisfying listen and an enjoyable outing. Well done!