Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Falkner Evans’ Distantly Haunting New Album Underscores How Love Is Stronger Than Death

Pianist Falkner Evans’ wife Linda killed herself in May of 2020, consequence of the lockdown. A professor whose specialty was Latin American literature, her favorite author was Gabriel Garcia Marquez. She was bright, introspective, well read and a talented visual artist. Evans’ response to this devastating and totally preventable loss is his first-ever solo album, Invisible Words, which isn’t online yet. It’s both a loving portrait and a reflection on unspeakable grief. On the whole, the album is more pensive than anguished, and surprisingly dynamic considering the circumstances. A handful of themes recur, sonata-like. Space plays as much a role here as melody.: Much of this is Mahmoud Darwish’s concept of the presence of absence, incarnated in these songs without words.

Evans opens with the title track, beginning with a tentative, minimalist fondness that grows to a sparkle and then a serious, carefully considered insistence. Clearly, Linda had a joie de vivre to match any despondency.

You’re Next, Ladybug is a warmly expectant ballad, Evans pacing himself slowly with more than a hint of Errol Garner lightheartedness through a series of gentle neoromantic cascades that occasionally drift toward ragtime or stride. Likewise, there’s plenty of space in Brightest Light, a wistfully anthemic tune which quickly descends toward a portrait of emotional depletion.

Breathing Altered Air is a lockdown parable, Evans reaching for jaunty glimpses of hope amid the somber, austere chords. Moving toward a steady stroll, he livens the heavy atmosphere with variations on a series of wry soul/blues riffs, up to an unexpected ending that packs a crushing wallop.

Made Visible is part wounded Chopin prelude, part sagely reflective Horace Silver wee hours refrain. Like so many of the tracks here, there’s a steady resilience, an autosuggestive quality, a mantra to just keep going. .

The big epic here is Lucia’s Happy Heart, referencing Linda’s’ Italophile alter ego. An older song, it’s actually one of the album’s more somber numbers: it’s sort of an expansive study for what would become Altered Air.

The Hope Card is the album’s most spacious and perhaps ironically most persistently brooding, ominously chromatic track. Evans closes the record with the terse ballad Invisible Words for Linda, in a sense bringing the album full circle.

Even more tragically, Evans’ wife’s suicide is one of thousands since the lockdown – and the pandemic of deaths of despair is getting worse. More people under thirty were driven to suicide in the UK by the lockdown than died of Covid in the entire world. The World Economic Forum and their puppets at the WHO and in government have blood on their hands.

At this point in history, whistleblowers and great revelations are springing out everywhere: it is only a matter of time before every population in the world gets wise to the lockdowners’ schemes and puts an end to them. We owe their victims no less.

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August 29, 2021 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Falkner Evans’ New Album Blends Smarts and Accessibility

The arrangements on jazz pianist/composer Falkner Evans’ new album The Point of the Moon sound bigger than they are. This little band – a quartet, mostly – often delivers the anthemic grandeur of a group twice their size or even larger. That’s an especially impressive achievement for Evans, considering that much of his recent work has been in a trio setting. In addition to a rhythm section including Belden Bullock on bass and the ubiquitously counterintuitive Matt Wilson on drums, there’s the horn section of Greg Tardy on tenor sax and Ron Horton on trumpet, with Gary Versace joining the mix on the final two tracks.

The brightness and accessibility of the tunes often masks their depth and complexity: this is hummable stuff, but it’s also not shallow. The album gets off to something of a false start: if the undeniably pretty opening cut, Altered Soul, has you thinking “lounge-ola,” hang in there, they’re not phoning it in, they’re just warming up. The second track, Drawing In, is a gently and deftly syncopated wee hours ballad. An elusive Tardy line gives way to what’s as close to a lush chart for two voices as you can possibly imagine, then hands it off to both sax and trumpet in turn, with a playfully pointillistic bass solo, Horton spinning and dipping gracefully out of it.

Dorsoduro manages to swing blithely without being cloying, Tardy taking his time and exploring both the upper and lower registers, Evans maintaining the nocturnal congeniality. The most energetic track here, Cheer Up briskly scurries out of a tricky intro with a high-flying Tardy bop solo. The fun is contagious, and the whole band gets into it, especially Wilson. By contrast, Jobim’s O Grande Amor gets a welcome dose of gravitas, the whole rhythm section leaving it to another one of those juicy horn charts, Horton going long and blues-infused, Evans keeping it terse, playing it close to his vest, a little wounded.

Slightest Movement follows practically as a segue, reverting to the saloon-jazz warmth of the earlier part of the album. The standard While We’re Young is done as a Mad Men era jazz waltz. Off the Top, a swing tune, has the feel of a standard, something you can’t quite put your finger on and that’s because it’s an original. With Versace’s lush organ work, it’s like a 50s/60s Ellington combo and Procol Harum hanging out all together at the hotel bar after the show. The album closes on a potent note with the gorgeously plaintive, tango-infused title cut, lowlit by Versace’s accordion and another one of those big/little horn charts. As a whole, it’s a very successful blend of catchy tunesmithing, inspired writing and playing.

August 9, 2011 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment