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EEE - Eubanks Evans Experience (Imani)

16 March 2022

Decades of varied adventures come together on Eubanks Evans Experience, the debut album by the duo of guitarist Kevin Eubanks and pianist Orrin Evans. (Yeah, we know, you’d think the title and group name would be switched.) Born out of a residency at a Philadelphia club, the duo takes the same approach to recording as to their live shows: a quick decision on what to play, and off they go. That allows them to hop from the gnarled blues rock of “I Don’t Know” to the post-bop whimsy of “And Then They Ran Out of Bisquits!” and the contemplative balladry of “Dawn Marie,” not to mention the gushing “Dreams of Loving You,” a 1980 single from “Thighs High” trumpeter Tom Browne. Without beat keepers behind them, it’s up to rhythm guitar or the piano’s low notes to provide the pulse, giving a lot of the tracks a lighter-than-air feel.

The pair really dig in for the final songs, “Variations on the Battle” and “Variations on Adoration,” both of which traverse hard bop, blues, free playing and classical variations over the course of their relaxed lengths. 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.