Peter Evans Quintet - Ghosts (More is More, 2011) *****
By Joe Higham
The quintet : Evans (trumpet), Carlos Homs (piano), Tom Blancarte (bass), Jim Black (drums), Sam Pluta doing live processing. What they do with the music is like going on a roller-coaster as you're tossed up in the air, whizzed around corners, spinning down and around. The quintet mixes bop and electronics in an compelling way, reminding me of the direction John Zorn took with his zapping music. Track 1 is a post bop type melody, but with subtle use of electronics, a rhythm section that stops, starts, speeds up and slows down like a be-bop Captain Beefheart, and that's just the beginning. '323' (Tk 2), the music again hits right between the eyes before flying off into a free form improvisation that gradually reassembles itself only after visiting several different rhythmical sections, here the music is relentless.
Carlos Homs plays excellent piano, managing to stay finely balanced between post bop and the music of now, mixing modern styles such as Matthew Shipp or Craig Taborn. Fine playing from all, Jim Black also is heard here in great form, maybe the most interesting drumming since the Tiny Bell Trio. Sam Pluta takes the music, in particular Evans trumpet, and sends it back to us the listener in many guises, sometimes it takes you a second to realise what you're actually hearing. Blancarte holds the whole thing together, probably more than we actually notice.
There are a few stopping places on the journey though, Ghost (Tk 3) being the firstbased on the standard 'I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You.' Here the music is calm and spacious, Evans trumpet fires off spiralling away in all directions although he stays close to the melody (never played). The music is often daring and endlessly interesting whilst staying very accessible. And 'that' is probably the crux of the album, the music always stays melodic even in the wildest moments.'Articulation' (Tk 6) is like a conclusion at 14 mins, the sum of all the music heard, forever changing. This is where Wynton Marsalis could of gone with his classic 4tet, but never did.
In fact you could write much about this CD as there are endless details to discover and the music manages to subtly integrate many styles also. An excellent album with no weak moments, and I suspect one that will be high on 'best of' lists at the end of the year. 'Stardust' (the final track) is a nice way to leave the listener, don't you find?