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CD Review 2007.12.20 - DELTA BOUND allaboutjazz.com

Delta Bound (w/Dick Hyman)
Jim Santella
for allaboutjazz.com (USA)

"A winning combination... ...shares the tradition of New Orleans while lifting spirits to lofty heights."

The clarinet and New Orleans share a long tradition of rhythmic swing and lyrical adventure. Long before Pete Fountain and Larry Shields, there were trad jazz pioneers including Lorenzo and Louis Tio, Lorenzo Tio Jr., Albert Nicholas, Alvin Batiste, Johnny Dodds, Barney Bigard, Omer Simeon, Jimmy Noone, Tony Scott and Sidney Bechet. The instrument, with its throaty, wooden timbre, allows emotions to be bared and feelings set free when in the hands of a master. Delta Bound recalls the masters of the clarinet while applying fresh, original songs to a syncopated rhythmic memory that remains timeless.

Clarinetist Evan Christopher, still in his thirties, hails from Long Beach, California, where he was exposed to all kinds of music and art as a youngster. Now working on his Masters Degree at Tulane University in New Orleans, he's enlisted the support of pianist Dick Hyman, bassist Bill Huntington and drummer Shannon Powell to 'splain the magic of The Big Easy and all its charming musical elements.

Christopher has you dancing in the streets, holding a colorful parasol and tossing baubles and beads to passers-by before the CD player reaches the album's title track. Written by Alexander Hill, it drives like a slow freight that knows where the tracks lead, as Christopher's clarinet signals a passive voice above the rhythmic stride of piano, bass and drums. Christopher gives Hoagy Carmichael's "New Orleans a welcome waltz step that swings high and low through the clarinet's registers. "La Ciudad Criolla and "The King of Treme, both originals, balance deep feeling with superb musicianship. A winning combination such as this shares the tradition of New Orleans while lifting spirits to lofty heights.

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