The Eubanks-Evans-Experience (EEE)
Release date: March 18, 2022
Label: Imani Records
EEE (Eubanks-Evans-Experience) is the debut duo recording by two of jazz’s most acclaimed and eclectic artists: guitar great Kevin Eubanks and adventurous pianist Orrin Evans. EEE presents a set that’s as wide-ranging and unpredictable as audiences have come to expect from these two risk-takers. Created in an atmosphere of spontaneity and try-anything experimentation, the repertoire veers from gut-rumbling blues to delicate, airy impressionism, mixing up on-the-spot originals with funk-jazz deep cuts and classic tunes by jazz masters.
Eubanks and Evans share more than their Philly roots – though that’s not an aspect that can be discounted, and the city’s tension between brotherly love and gritty attitude courses through the album’s veins. Both also bring a wealth of experience to the table, along with a friendship of long standing. Eubanks, middle brother of the well-known jazz family, made his name through a series of electrifying releases in the 1980s before spending a decade and a half as bandleader for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Since that stint ended in 2010, he’s reemerged as a vital voice on the modern jazz scene leading his own bands along with resuming his partnership with bassist Dave Holland in the band Prism. Nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award for his Captain Black Big Band, Evans has been splitting his time recently between his own prolific performing career and newly appointed role as the Artist in Residence of the DC Jazz Festival.
While EEE marks the pair’s recording debut as a duo, there’s an inviting ease and a scintillating chemistry to the meeting of Evans and Eubanks that speaks to their parallel histories as well as their shared fearlessness. That’s reflected in the offbeat choice of material on the album, most of which was decided upon at the spur of the moment – both in the studio and on stage at Philadelphia’s Chris’ Jazz Cafe.
The album harkens back to Eubanks’ 1983 debut Guitarist with the album’s opening track “The Novice Bounce”, beginning the album with a sauntering improvisation which builds into a soulful bounce, wrife with moments of tasteful interplay. The duo continues with a reimagining of the Tom Browne song “Dream of Lovin’ You”. Departing from the funky upbeat feel of the original, this version is an introspective ballad, fully embodying the “dream” aspect of the title. Evans contributed the heartfelt ballad “Dawn Marie”, a tribute to his wife and creative partner, Dawn Warren Evans.
Freedom is a theme that runs throughout the DNA of this release, and the freedom of two like-minded, and deeply well-versed artists playing in a duo context allows for spontaneous creation of the highest echelon. “I like to play with musicians where you don’t have to talk much; you just find a feeling and a direction and go there together,” says Eubanks, “There’s a certain trust that the person is going to bring a vibe, a texture and a personality to the song, even if you’re making up as you go along. With Orrin, I feel confident that if we say, ‘Let’s just start a song,’ we can do that; but if we want something really articulate and planned out, we don’t have any problem with doing that either.” Tunes such as “I Don’t Know” and “And… They Ran Out of Bisquits!” tap into that freedom with spontaneous compositions stemming from a single melody or groove and blossoming into truly expansive works.
“Variations on The Battle” and “Variations on Adoration”, recorded live at Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia, allow the duo to stretch out for nearly thirteen minutes, performing variations on Evans’ “Half the Battle”, then doing the same for “Adoration” a ballad from Eubanks’ Zen Food album that also served as his farewell performance on The Tonight Show.
“What I love about Kevin is he’s not afraid of the journey,” Evans says. “When you have nothing to prove, the possibilities of the music are just amazing, and that’s pretty much what’s happening here.”
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"It's refreshing to hear them let loose and dig into the great depths of their repertoire.." Review here.
WBGO - TAKE FIVE
"Guitarist Kevin Eubanks and pianist Orrin Evans share a natural simpatico, with more than the city of Philadelphia as a common bond between them." See the full article here.
"EEE (Eubanks-Evans-Experience) is the debut release on Imani Records for guitarist Kevin Eubanks and pianist Orrin Evans, but those letters also represent energy, exuberance and excellence." Review in the May 2022 issue of Downbeat.
"..they pull it off." Read the review in the June 2022 issue of Relix Magazine.
THE BIG TAKEOVER
"This is the sound of two veterans with much in common happily bouncing their talents off each other, and it’s a joy to hear." Read the review here.
"Listening to guitarist Kevin Eubanks return to making more thrilling music is thrilling.." Review here.
"The Eubanks-Evans Experience is an unexpected but welcome collaboration." Read The Month In Jazz for March 2022 here.
NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
"Each proves himself to be both exceptionally capable soloist and accompanist, possessing engaging melodicism, harmonic acuity and keen sense of rhythmic drive. " Read the review in the April 2022 issue here.
"...In terms of successful challenge, the album entitled EEE-Eubanks- Evans-
DEE DEE MCNEIL
LA JAZZ SCENE
"There is undeniable chemistry between these two master musicians. Both are fearless in their musical perceptions and abilities." Review here.
WORLD CAFE LIVE
"The two spent decades honing their craft and carving out space as jazz powerhouses and their new collab is audible proof of Philly excellence." Read the full interview here.
BEBOP SPOKEN HERE
"Reflective, beautifully played music by two musicians so mutually attuned that it comes out as one." Read the review here.
"A freewheeling affair that draws heavily on their common language and shared background from North Philly.." Read the news story here.
"Guitarist Kevin Eubanks and pianist Orrin Evans joined forces for a sympathetic duo offer designated as EEE.." Read the review here.
"The pair’s improvisation and bold, adventurous songs lead listeners on an enjoyable journey." Read the review here.
Read the complete review in the Summer 2022 issue of Jazziz Magazine.
Read the review in the June issue of Jazz Japan.
"The resulting music from these two long-standing friends is by turns daring, explorative, exciting, and gorgeous." Read the review here.
RALPH A. MIRIELLO
NOTES ON JAZZ
"Eubanks Evans Experience is just that an experience; one that requires attention, one that requires awareness of nuance, and the ability to appreciate the true creative excellence of these two marvelous musicians.." Review here and named to Best Jazz of 2022 list here.