To some Newark is a Jazz town. With many venues featuring Jazz, included Symphony Hall, Metropolitan Chuch (Jazz Vespers), NJPAC, WBGO, Museum, Library, Dukes, The Priory Restaurant and the Rutgers Jazz institute. On Saturday Aljira Gallery added Jazz to the line-up of “Performance Art” with the Josh Evan Quartet, the young turks hitting the jazz scen. The audience was not disappointed.
Josh Evans, born and raised in Hartford, CT, was drawn to the trumpet after hearing a Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie recording at the age of 10. Josh began studying with Raymond ‘Dr. Rackle’ Williams and within a year he began performing regularly with Dr. Rackle’s Sound Griot Brass Band. By the age of 14 Evans’ musical career began to take shape when he started to study with and be mentored by the celebrated alto saxophonist/composer, and educator Jackie McLean. Studying under McLean who shared the bandstand with Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Art Blakey, would be pivotal in Josh’s career. The experience would blaze the path for performances with Jackie McLean which included New York based venues known as the Blue Note, Iridium, the Regattabar located in Boston, MA, and the Bushnell Center for Performing Arts in Hartford, CT.
In April 2005 Josh began a Three and a half year stint with the Winard Harper Sextet, touring the United States performing and conducting master classes. The group personnel, at different points, consisted of Billy Taylor, Frank Wess and George Cables, as well as trumpet players Terrell Stafford, Claudio Roditi and Phillip Harper. The group would also record a wonderful album in 2006, entitled ‘Make it Happen’ for Piadrum Records. In April 2007, Josh was invited to perform a two week tour of Siberia with master saxophonist, and composer Benny Golson. It was during this time period that Evans would also start performing with master Drummer Rashied Ali and would become the bands trumpet player for the next two years. The Rashied Ali Quintet toured 18 different countries and recorded one CD Live in Europe. Josh Evans would play with Rashied Ali until thedrummer’s untimely death in 2009. In January 2011, Josh Evans recorded and released his debut album ‘Portrait’. This Album shares Evans influential relationships with Rasieid Ali, Jackie McLean, Raymond Williams, Alan Palmer, and Ralph Peterson. While attending the Greater HartfordAcademy of the Performing Arts High School, Josh was selected for the All-American Grammy High School Jazz Band, won the Wynton Kelly Award and an Outstanding Soloist Award from Down Beat magazine. Josh has performed with many notables, including Cedar Walton, Rashied Ali, Benny Golson, Mickey Bass, Terell Stafford, Winard Harper, Shelia Jordan, Steve Davis, and Valery Ponomarev.
Josh featured many selections from his two albums. His premiere album entitled “Portraits” and his most recent album entitled “Hope and Despair” his latest album that came out last month. Josh interplay with saxophone player Abraham Burton was fast-pace and energetic. They play non-stop for two hours.
Abraham’s professional career as a musician was initiated with the legendary drummer Arthur Taylor. During his five years with “Taylor’s Wailers” he recorded on “Mr. A.T.” and “Live at the Village Vanguard” on Enja Records, touring throughout Europe and performing at notable New York clubs such as: The Village Vanguard, Sweet Basil, and Birdland.
Since his time, Abraham has developed a reputation as a veritable professional performing and/or recording with the most prestigious of musicians such as Wynton Marsalis, Milt Jackson, Roy Hargrove, Louis Hayes, James Carter, Kenny Barron, and Jimmy Smith to name just a few.
The other members of the quartet included the following; complemented Evans, with the amazing bass playing of Dezron Douglass, on the piano David Bryant and on the drums Kush Abadey; complemented Evan’s tight but complex sound.
Josh’s playing is “Chronic Mistake” is an extremely enjoyable example of phenomenal artistry that features Evans’s skill with the trumpet; the sort of thing that we point to as incredibly well composed and executed jazz. Josh Evans’ trumpet has the kind of counter-punching power Freddie Hubbard delivered back in the day this is a showcase for lively interplay, pitch-and-follow and blazing gutbucket jazz-lounge entertainment. Take a listen.