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 James Evans
Author: John Morton 
Date:   2018-02-25 05:30

I'm just back from a week in New Orleans, which has become the hub of a certain rootsy jazz style that has emerged from a young generation post-Katrina. There's lots to like, but a standout was James Evans. He was playing with Aurora Nealand's Royal Roses, doubling C melody sax and clarinet. They have an alluring take on older standards, novel arrangements with generous solo time for some very creative players. James knocked me out with a full chorus of just tuba and slap-tongued clarinet, an amazing sound. I asked him how he figured out slap tongue on such a high pitched instrument - he said it took awhile, and unfortunately his method breaks a lot of reeds!

If you find yourself in New Orleans, take note that Frenchman St. has a row of music clubs, several of which present 3 bands every night of the week, with no cover charge.The bandleader will typically shake down the audience for tips. The older places like Palm Court still carry on with the old guard, also really great.

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 Re: James Evans
Author: ned 
Date:   2018-02-27 12:38

James Evans is Sammy Rimington's son-in-law. Here's a video of Sammy in full flight:


Here's a James Evans trio:


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 Re: James Evans
Author: John Morton 
Date:   2018-03-01 07:22

That trio with Hal Smith is terrific, thanks. To illustrate James' slap technique, here's a spot on another number where he opens his solo with a few bars of it:

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 Re: James Evans
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2018-03-02 00:12

Hal Smith is terrific. He frequently picks great clarinetists to play with (and they pick him too.)

Hal heaped high praise on Jonathan Doyle at the end of 2017...saying something to the effect of "...played the best clarinet solo I have ever heard..." (during a gig last fall). If I can find his statement again, I'll come back and edit this post to put in his actual quote. Hal has a vast knowledge of jazz clarinet players, and has played with almost all of them...so this statement was pretty special.

Two summers ago, I was sitting a few feet away from Hal when he played with Tim Laughlin (one of my personal favorites), and I think I learned as much about musicality from Hal as I have from wind players! He's amazing!

Another top-tier musician who frequently chooses the best-of-the-best jazz clarinetists is pianist Steve Pistorius.

As for James Evans - he's great! He is always reaching, pushing, and stretching to improve. One night, at the Spotted Cat, James was really going out there and trying some pretty ambitious stuff. Happenstance found me sitting next to a well-known professional jazz clarinetist in the audience who had stopped by to listen and say, "Hi" to James. The (anonymous) clarinetist knew I played, and he leaned over and said (in jest), "I wouldn't emulate quite everything you hear James trying."

As the set continued, James pushed the envelope even further - missing a few landings, and the (anonymous) clarinetist leaned over again, and said, "I wouldn't emulate much of what you hear James playing."

The set continued, and James pushed even further - falling flat and missing the mark several times in several numbers. The (anonymous) clarinetist leaned over to me and said, "I wouldn't suggest trying to emulate anything you hear James playing!" Of course, all of this was in jest - and in admiration of James' ability and attempts to push the limits; and as soon as the set was over, I was introduced to James. He's a really nice guy. Amazing player...and made a highly memorable and enjoyable evening of music.

I really enjoy the version of Shotgun Jazz Band with James in it. He adds a lot to the sound of the group...and he has a great singing voice too!


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