Zebulon was not my intended destination. I left my house at 8 p.m. this past Saturday to catch the last hour of HQ gallery’s one night show “Why and Wherefore” – a show that was advertised as an international event that shouldn’t be missed. The press release that was emailed to me described the show as one of many that were happening simultaneously in galleries all over the world. “Why and Wherefore” was supposed to incite contemplation on collective worldwide action as each show was to include works dedicated to the theme of “how digital work can be infinitely and exactly reproduced.”
It’s an interesting concept that unfortunately was executed poorly. When I arrived at HQ, I was pointed to a few 8.5 X 11 pieces of paper that were taped to a wall in the back room of the gallery. They didn’t seem to draw much attention as the bulk of the people in attendance that evening were chatting in the back yard over drinks and cigarettes. Perhaps I’d missed the fireworks, but it’s unlikely. The show was a bust.
Walking somewhat aimlessly through town, I remembered that Zebulon was featuring a jazz trumpet player named Peter Evans with his band, the Peter Evans Quartet. I’ve often thought that in a parallel universe somewhere, I exist as a jazz trumpeter too, because it’s my secret favorite passion. I love the sound, the style, the somber tones of the trumpet – and jazz? There’s nothing more mysterious or alluring.
The Peter Evans Quartet was mid-song when I shyly asked the bartender for a coke because I’m not a big drinker. The band was moving quickly along, playing a tune I couldn’t identify as any of the standards even though its rhythms, chords and attitude could mean nothing other than jazz. Evans lead the group, which was Kevin Shea on drums, Brandon Seabrook on guitar and Jon Blancart on stand-up bass. The group was well-rehearsed, played tightly, and showcased Evan’s virtuosic playing well.
“Those were all my compositions,” said Evans after the show. We’d stepped out front to talk when the show was over. “A lot of my stuff is sort of cannibalized jazz standards made from taking apart old stuff and putting it back together the way I want it.”
Evans, who described his composition technique as pretty organic, said proudly that he doesn’t really use computer programs to facilitate his writing. “My process is fast and in the moment,” he explained. An Oberlin graduate, he also said that he is influenced by classical music as well as by the great jazz musicians. “I studied classical also,” he said. “But I don’t have the time to do both. I’m really just trying to do my own stuff.”
Evans moved to New York City five years ago and has managed to make music his whole life. In other words, he doesn’t have a day job. That’s rare.
“I came here because I couldn’t think of anything else to do,” he admitted. “When I got out of school I really just wanted to do my own thing.”
Doing his own thing has worked out, and has brought him all over the world, including Europe and Southeast Asia. When I asked him who his favorite jazz musician and greatest inspiration was, he laughed and named his drummer, Kevin Shea. “He’s the man.”
The band plays exclusively at Zebulon, their favorite jazz venue in New York City, and always shows up with something new because of their emphasis on improvisation and constantly reworking pieces. “That last piece is one we’ve been playing for about two years and we’re still finding new things to play around with,” said Evans.
For more information, check out there website, myspace.com/peterevanstrumpet.
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