Half Notes: Charles Evans/ Neil Shah – Live at Saint Stephens (2009)

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by Mark Saleski

Baritone sax (Evans) and piano recorded live at a church. The room gave just the right amount of natural reverb, which is a great thing because too much echo can muddy all of those wonderful details my ears parts expect from the bari sax: clacking valves, breathy passages. The improvisations range from simple call and response motifs — the opening “Junie” suite has Shah holding down an ostinato over which Evans places a theme that he proceeds to slowly take apart. During “On Tone Yet,” the duo hands ideas back and forth for more than 16 minutes with the tone morphing from a romantic hush to foreboding dissonance. I particularly loved the tension brought on by the angularity employed during “Mothers and Others.” Sorta Braxton-esque, sorta not. There was a lot of deep listening going on at this show, by both fans and performers.

Half Notes is a quick-take music feature on Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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