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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Peter Evans' Being & Becoming - Ars Memoria (More Is More, 2023)

By Stef Gijssels

In 2020, we were treated to the astonishingly strong "Being & Becoming", a quartet of Peter Evans on trumpet and piccolo trumpet, Joel Ross on vibraphone and percussion, Nick Jozwiak on bass and Savannah Harris on drums. For their sophomore album, the latter has been replaced by Michael Shekwoaga Ode.

Like the first album, the music is complex, influenced by Western and non-Western sounds, by modern and ancient sounds. The tight compositions and structural anchor points, leave sufficient room for improvisation resulting in wonderful dynamics and lively expressivity between the four stellar musicians. Sounds change, rhythms change, tones change, moods change, harmonics change, not all at once, but in a kaleidoscopic whirlwind of spiraling ideas and sounds. It's hard to assess which arrangements have been agreed upon, but despite the music's complexity, in the hands of these four musicians it all sounds so spontaneous, so organic and supple. It's hard to assess the level of concentration these musicians need to keep abreast of what will happen next, while at the same time performing with ease and fully relaxed, focused on their own sound. I assume that this is somehow captured in the album's title, the art of memory,  to have played some music so often, that it comes naturally, without effort, so that you can focus fully on the delivery, the performance of the moment. The whole album develops coherently in a very suite-like fashion. In contrast to their debut album, I have the impression that Evans gives more room for the other instruments, with the rhythm section become the lead voice, and the trumpet adding and colouring. 

Another exceptional aspect is the overall tone of the music: it sounds so jubilant, joyful, upbeat and ecstatic, with the exception of the more solemn middle track, built around a central tone and slowly developing. But it's especially the superfast moments, such as on the title track that are absolutely exhilarating, demonstrating how the quartet has refined, polished their art over the years, to achieve such a wonderfully precise and inectious interaction. It is at times hard to believe what they're doing, and you can listen again and again with open ears and open mouth. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp

Watch a full performance, streamed live on Mar 17, 2023 at Roulette, New York.