September Artist Feature: Peter Evans

(photo by Peter Gannushkin)

Trumpeter Peter Evans has exploded onto the New York creative and improvised music scene since 2003, releasing a series of critically-acclaimed albums. He delivers potent solo performances and leads a number of innovative groups featuring his talents both as an improviser and composer. His success is based upon rare gifts: a vibrant imagination, the ability to perform circular breathing for extended periods, crisp flutter tonguing, and a variety of other innovative techniques.

Featured Bands led by Evans

  • Zebulon Trio: PE, John Hebert (bass), Kassa Overall (drums)
  • Peter Evans Quintet: PE, Ron Stabinsky (piano), Tom Blancarte (bass), Jim Black (drums), Sam Pluta (electronics)
  • Peter Evans Octet: PE, Ron Stabinsky (piano), Tom Blancarte (bass), Jim Black (drums), Sam Pluta (electronics), Brandon Seabrook (guitar, banjo, electronics), Dan Peck (tuba), Ian Antonio (percussion)
  • Rocket Science: PE, Evan Parker (reeds), Craig Taborn (piano), Sam Pluta (electronics)

Interview

Evans has a residency at the Stone this month and will unveil the latest music he has devised for a number of groups he is currently leading. I had the opportunity to talk with Peter in late August about his plans for the Stone residency.

CB: Could you describe your current projects, what you feel you have accomplished with them recently and where you are headed next?

PE: I am mostly using my Stone week to highlight the groups that have been either the most active recently or that I aim to make more active in the near future. The Zebulon Trio, Pulverize the Sound, and the Quintet specifically are groups that have grown a lot over the last year or two and I would like to present combinations of old and new stuff with all three. Rocket Science and the Octet are something of “dream bands” for which performing opportunities are and will probably remain rare, so I felt it absolutely essential to include them. The Rocket Science album (with Evan Parker, Sam Pluta and Craig Taborn) is being released the same week we play at the Stone.

CB: There are a number of talented trumpeters from your generation (Nate Wooley, Taylor Ho Bynum, Kirk Knuffke, Jason Palmer, Ambrose Akinmusire, and Tristram Williams, to name but a few). Could you talk a little about what you feel the most important contributions your generation has made to redefining the trumpet and what you have done in particular?

PE: You are definitely right in that there seems to be an explosion of trumpet talent the last few years.  It’s not for me to say what my contribution is although I can say that all the players mentioned form an incredibly diverse group and I am happy to say everyone really seems supportive of one another.

CB: Could you briefly describe a few influences on you as an artist and musician?

PE: Very many and it constantly changes nowadays. It is hard to know where start so just a couple of examples for now. An early gateway drug into weirdness for me was Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica. That feeling of loving some music but also being frustrated by it was important. The music seemed so obtuse and impenetrable, also sloppy and coordinated at once. That early experience of being obsessed with an experimental music, listening to it a lot to decode it, liking it more and more… This was an important process to pick up. Around the same time (this was around age 15) I was really into the Coltrane Vanguard sessions with Dolphy. Recent inspirations include the three albums Wayne Shorter made in the 1980s: Atlantis, Joy Ryder, and Phantom Navigator. There is an obsessive outpouring of compositional detail that is not conventionally “musical”, combined with these often very rigid electronic timbres. Then these dramatic soprano solos on top! The albums are just these weird windows into Shorter’s imagination; they are for better or worse totally uninhibited and more painstakingly assembled in the studio than a lot of his other work which is more improvisatory.

CB: Could you talk a little about putting together Rocket Science? How did that band come together? You mentioned it as one of your dream projects–what led you to include those musicians and what does their inclusion in the group allow you to do?

PE: Well, name itself is the answer. Someone asked me what made me think to put these particular people together and I said that it wasn’t rocket science. It was an obvious configuration. These guys all share a very advanced type of musicianship, particularly as it relates to improvisation. For me it is about the  craft and instrumental mastery at the service of sensitivity to others and an ear for being part of a larger composite sound. I pitched the group to Reiner Michalke at the Moers Festival for 2012, and he was interested. This facilitated a weekend of concerts, and the gig from London became the CD.

CB: You mentioned growth in Zebulon, Pulverize the Sound, and the quintet–could you explain a bit about what new ground you have been covering over the past year and what you see as the new direction for each of these bands?

PE: They are all incredibly different creatures which makes having them all in my life at once very exciting. Pulverize is a band that has developed since 2010 mostly in Tim Dahl’s rehearsal space in Brooklyn. We rehearse weekly in the middle of the night and work on music simply because we want to play and have no other time to do it. We’ve done very few gigs but over this past summer we decided to step things up a bit and record, since we have so much music under our belts. I think as a group we are interested in getting above ground and playing shows in the coming year, and seeing how things develop.

The Zebulon trio is almost the opposite–from the beginning it has always about minimal rehearsal, more about playing and stretching out on fairly loose material. Our record has gotten a great response, John and Kassa seem into it and play their asses off every gig. It’s just always a blast. So this band is doing quite a bit coming up: a European tour, some NYC gigs, a new record for Firehouse 12… All before the end of ’13.

The Quintet is a very special group. It is a combination of very distinctive musical personalities who all seem to have a “no limits” mindset- they like rehearsing, they want to play hard music, improvise, do everything! And they all can! The band is going to be a central part of my Issue Project Room residency in 2014 so I am thinking for the Stone show we will play through a mixture of the really old stuff (from Ghosts) and the music we’ve been playing the last two years and recorded at EMPAC in March. We’ve only performed 4 or 5 times in almost as many years in NYC so it’s not like anyone knows what we sound like but this recent stuff is more about long pieces, each with a specific inspiration. These include the film sound designers Gary Rydstrom and Ben Burtt, Evan Parker and Star Trek.

The Octet is really an extension of the quintet in every way- more variety, weirder, more people, individuals themselves playing more instruments. We just played a killer set in Lisbon and it seems like the band is really about finding ways for every one of the individuals to shine. Each person is so unique and crazy in their own way- it is great just to watch everyone enjoying everyone else’s playing so much.

Live Performances in September

  • Sep 10: Peter Evans solo; Peter Evans Trio with Robert Dick and David Taylor at The Stone, 8 & 10 pm
  • Sep 11: Pulverize the Sound: Peter Evans, Tim Dahl & Mike Pride at The Stone, 8 & 10 pm
  • Sep 12: Zebulon Trio: Peter Evans, John Hebert & Kassa Overall; Peter Evans-Joe McPhee Duo at The Stone, 8 & 10 pm
  • Sep 13: Peter Evans Quintet with Ron Stabinsky, Tom Blancarte, Sam Pluta & Jim Black at The Stone, 8 & 10 pm
  • Sep 14: Peter Evans Octet with Ron Stabinsky, Brandon Seabrook, Tom Blancarte, Dan Peck, Sam Pluta, Jim Black & Ian Antonio at The Stone, 8 pm (one 2-hour set)
  • Sep 15: Rocket Science: Evan Parker, Peter Evans, Sam Pluta & Craig Taborn at The Stone, 8 & 10 pm
  • Sep 17: Rocket Science: Evan Parker, Peter Evans, Sam Pluta & Craig Taborn at The Stone, 8 & 10 pm
  • Sep 19: Bleeding Edge Trio: Peter Evans, Okkyung Lee & Evan Parker at The Stone, 8 pm
  • Sep 26: Zebulon Trio: Peter Evans, John Hebert & Kassa Overall at The Jazz Gallery, 9 & 10:30 pm
  • Sep 29: Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Peter Evans, Jon Irabagon, Moppa Elliott, Kevin Shea, Dave Taylor, Ron Stabinsky & Brandon Seabrook at The Firehouse Space, 8 & 10 pm
  • Sep 30: Wet Ink Ensemble: Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Septet with George Lewis, Ikue Mori, Ned Rothenberg, Okkyung Lee, Peter Evans, Sam Pluta at Roulette 8 pm $20

Selected Discography

  • Rocket Science – self-titled (More is More records, 2013)
  • Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans, Weasel Walter – Mechanical Malfunction (Thirsty Ear Recordings, 2012)
  • Peter Evans Quintet – Ghosts (More is More Records)
  • Nate Wooley-Peter Evans Duo – Peter Evans/Nate Wooley (Carrier Records, 2011)
  • Peter Evans – Nature/Culture (Psi Records, 2009)