|Written by Anne Ierardi|
Clarinetist Evan Christopher will bring it to Cape Cod
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? Louis Armstrong
Nauset Regional Middle School hosts the first New Orleans to Orleans Festival (NO2O) April 10 to 12 with music, food, film, and art. A highlight will be the appearance of world-renowned jazz clarinetist Evan Christopher. Once I realized New Orleans was not on Eastern Standard Time, I caught up with Evan on the phone.
Not only is place an important aspect of literature but it is also has significance for music. There are the places where we find ourselves and the places where we are drawn to be. For Evan Christopher that place is New Orleans.
“After university (in his native California) where I learned the fundamentals of the classical clarinet, I moved to New Orleans,” he said. “I was touring there by bus and I knew I had to return. The energy level of the city is amazing. Two factors drew me: everything there is crooked like the streets, and the humidity in the air. That heaviness I discovered is great for the clarinet. Sound travels differently and I believe this distinctness contributes to the uniqueness of the New Orleans sound. I see it as a ‘sound’ or an ethnic style not so much a genre of jazz.”
I asked Evan to explain what makes New Orleans music special. “The two important things to communicate are: how the music is connected to one’s sense of life, as nothing significant happens without the connection to live music,” he said. “Secondly, a very distinctive vocabulary in how these musicians approach their individual sounds and how they relate to each other. Finding your own voice is central.”
Evan found his voice through other musicians in New Orleans including his mentor, bass player Marshall Hawkins. Evan tours throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan and appears at the Newport Jazz Festival. He has been a featured soloist with groups including the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and has recorded with pianist Dick Hyman and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. His group Django à la Créole fuses Gypsy Swing with New Orleans rhythms. Their second CD, Finesse, was voted best jazz recording of 2010 in London’s Sunday Times. A recently released CD, Django a la Creole: Live!, highlights the best of their 2012 concerts.
Evan’s passion for the New Orleans sound is evident in his thoughtful, informative remarks. In his Cape concert, he will play original compositions as well as the classic music of New Orleans. The past is as central to appreciating New Orleans music as is the present. Sidney Bechett, Omer Simeon, Louis Armstrong, and Jelly Roll Morton are New Orleans bred and born masters of the sound. Duke Ellington approached his music in a similar way, though he hailed from Washington, D.C. Evan will treat us to his narration for the music.
Evan Christopher will be joined on Saturday, April 12th by Fred Boyle (piano), Alan Clinger (guitar), Ron Ormsby (bass), and Bart Weisman (drums) with a special appearance by vocalist Cerise. Opening the concert will be the George Gritzbach Blues Band; George Gritzbach (vocals & guitar), Rich Hill (bass) and Bart Weisman (drums). The Nauset Regional Middle School Jazz Band, directed by Megan Anthony, will perform a selection.
Another wonderful opportunity is the offering of a Clarinet Master Class by Evan Christopher for all ages and levels of musicians on Saturday afternoon, April 12th.
“I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans,” I told Evan as the close of our conversation. “Put it on your bucket list, Anne,” he said. “You may want to go in early April for the French Quarter Festival, best time to hear local musicians.” While our Orleans Festival is happening, New Orleans will be blowing out their sound, too.
Saturday, April 12, 7 p.m.,concert at Nauset Regional Middle School in Orleans featuring Evan Christopher on clarinet. Tickets $25 at http://www.orleanscommunitypartnership.org/; proceeds this year will benefit the NRMS Greenhouse project. NO2O is a collaboration among the Nauset Regional Middle School, the Orleans Chamber of Commerce, the Orleans Cultural Council & the Orleans Community Partnership (OCP) with generous support from the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.
Reprinted with permission from The Barnstable Patriot.