|A smooth operator, a crooner, a classical jazz vocalist, who mixes it up with a soulful swinging sophisticated style thats George Evans. His new recording, Bewitched, features some of the best musicians in the country providing superb support on classics from the Great American Songbook. Names like Eisenman, Wallace, Walker, Fuller and Schwager are names that should be recognized by fine music aficionados worldwide.
Recorded in a few sessions with two groups, a quartet and a quintet, the title track Bewitched and the Mercer ballad Tonight May Have To Last Me All Of My Life were recorded in 2002 and were the last studio sessions of drummer extraordinaire Jerry Fuller who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly July 13, 2002. One of the best Canadian drummers, a be-bop stylist in the fashion of Philly Jo-Jones, he adds superb dynamics and swings from piano to forte on every project he participated in (at least 50 recordings). In a touching tribute to Fuller by drummer Archie Alleyne, "We drummers have to adapt to whatever they want," Alleyne said, "There are very few drummers left that have his capability now. We look through a different window, and Jerry was quite capable of looking through that window."
How fitting to have drummer Alleyne fill the drum stool for the second and third sessions that were recorded in 2004 and 2005. A drummer who has a similar style, with strong be-bop leanings and a brush and cymbal specialist. Evans has a capacity for picking very good players, Alleyne is masterful at accompaniment and adds great dynamics to the rhythm section, rounded out by Reg Schwager, Steve Wallace and Nancy Walker. Playing off the fine melodies, we find tenor saxophonist Michael Stuart, pulling off some fine runs in a pleasing lyrical manner.
Evans has a style that is quite pleasing to the ear, he uses vibrato and sustain to good effect. His phrasing always swings and he is very close to the material, giving the songs that little extra, lifting the mood and setting the tone.
The recording is well produced; there is a string section added to some of the tracks. Blending in very nicely on the song La Belle Vie/The Good Life is the Boutique de Son Studio Orchestra. The string arrangement is by Jake Wilkinson.
Slide this CD into the player and relax over dinner with a fine glass of Pinot Noir and a good friend. Bewitched is an enchanting, romantic and bewitching performance. Check it out, its a delight.
report by Paul J. Youngman KJA Jazz Advocate Nov. '06