Evan Drybread is a freelance saxophonist from Indianapolis, Indiana and performs with the finest musicians in the Midwest. Although performing mostly in Central Indiana, Evan has performed around the globe including time as a show band musician for Royal Caribbean International. Drybread’s debut album Tiger Tail highlights his tenor and soprano sax work on six of his compositions ranging in styles from hard bop to jazz fusion. Additionally, the album features two duo pieces written by pianist Christopher Pitts. The other members of this quintet are Mark Buselli (trumpet and flugelhorn), Scott Pazera (upright and electric basses), and Kenny Phelps (drums). Drybread displays a few styles in his debut, centering mostly on hard bop but including fusion and a nod to Coltrane-like spirituality in the title track
The opener, “Blackball” is a quintessential hard bop piece in the mode of the classic Blue Note albums from the early ‘60s. “High Priestess” features Drybread on soprano and Pitts on Fender Rhodes, for a up tempo touch of jazz fusion. It is a contrafact of the tune “Beatrice,” one that Drybread originally played with his producer Charlie Ballantine, who does not play on the album but is a jazz guitarist. Drummer Phelps takes a whirlwind solo toward the end of the piece. “Queen of Cups” He eases into a soft, sultry ballad with “Queen of Cups,” playing with rich tone as does Buselli who plays flugelhorn on this one. The tune was written five years ago, soon after Drybread met his pianist Pitts, whom the leader had in mind when writing. Pitts, of course, turns in a solid performance. As mentioned, “Tiger Tail” is modeled on The John Coltrane Quartet, with not only the leader’s tenor emulating Trane’s aggressive sound but Pitts, in particular, flawlessly adapts McCoy Tyner’s percussion, modal piano style.
Pitts penned one of two duet pieces, the pensive, seductive, “Atlantic Mirror” with Drybread on soprano. Pitts had spent considerable time shuttling back and forth been Europe and the States and claims that the piece captures two different pictures of the same life. We return to rollicking hard bop with “The Downey Wives,” a feature for trumpeter Buselli, who soars to Pitt’s comping before the pianist takes his own inspired flight. Having deferred to his bandmates, Drybread sustains the energy with his flowing lines, as he again shines in another hard bop excursion. “Woodruff Place Town Hall’ brings in NOLA flavor with bassist Pazera’s electric bass line adapted from a sousaphone line that inspired Drybread’s writing. All soloists – Drybread, Buselli, Pitts, and Pazera sizzle again. The closer is the second of the Pitts composed pieces, another duet and another turn for Drybread on soprano for “Waltse,” an imagined whimsical piece, perhaps inspired by Chick Corea’s Children’s Songs. Interestingly, Pitts doesn’t solo but leaves the melody entirely to the leader. It puts a gorgeous wrap on an eclectic array of tunes that bode for a promising future not only for Drybread but his bandmates who step up admirably both in support and individually. Keep your eye on these players.
- Jim Hynes