Orrin Evans & The Captain Black Big Band to Release New Album “Walk A Mile In My Shoe” on August 16th, 2024 | LISTEN! Announces New Tour Dates for 2024



Fifth album from the seasoned, twice Grammy-nominated powerhouse ensemble

A spirited reflection on Evans’ life journey with neurofibromatosis of the left foot

Sean Jones, Josh Lawrence – trumpets; Todd Bashore – alto saxophone, flute; Caleb Wheeler Curtis – tenor/soprano saxophones; David Gibson, Reggie Watkins – trombones; Vicente Archer, Madison Rast – double bass; Anthony Tidd – electric bass; Anwar Marshall, Mark Whitfield II – drums; Orrin Evans – piano

Guest soloists: Nicholas Payton (trumpet), Jesse Fischer (organ)

Available August 16, 2024 from Imani Records

Building on back-to-back Grammy nominations for its Smoke Sessions albums Presence (2018) and The Intangible Between (2020), the Captain Black Big Band returns with Walk a Mile in My Shoe: a set that embodies the CBBB’s infectious community spirit like no other. Led by the acclaimed pianist Orrin Evans and packed with estimable talent from Evans’ orbit in Philadelphia and New York, the CBBB expands its concept on Walk a Mile in My Shoe to include collaborations with four extraordinary vocal talents: Lisa Fischer (“Blues in the Night,” “Overjoyed”), Bilal (“All That I Am,” “Save the Children”), Paul Jost (“Dislocation Blues,” “If”) and Joanna Pascale (“Sunday in New York”).

Walk a Mile in My Shoe, in the singular, is a reference to a malformation of the left foot that Evans has lived with from birth. “I walk with a cane because I was born with neurofibromatosis,” he states. “This is what the ‘Elephant Man’ had, but luckily it only affected my left leg/foot. I had several surgeries, the last one when I was eight. I don’t have the neurological issues anymore, but I’ve had several reconstructive surgeries since then. My musical journey is closely connected to my medical journey, and this record is me opening the door into what I’ve lived with for years.”

Pictured on the album are some of the special shoes Evans needed to wear, each a vivid reminder of his condition and its impact on his early childhood. But there’s a larger point with Walk a Mile in My Shoe: it’s about feeling worthy, about taking ownership of the journey and doing things without waiting for the “perfect” time. Such was the motivation to release Walk a Mile, sooner rather than later, on Imani Records, Evans’ own flagship label since the early 2000s. The pianist’s deep love for Smoke Sessions Records remains—wryly epitomized by trombonist David Gibson’s affecting horn choir arrangement of Jerome Kern’s “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” to close out the album.

“We’re getting a little older,” muses Evans, “and I started thinking about it. How Phyllis Hyman didn’t make it to my age. Charlie Parker and Jesus didn’t make it to my age, you know? So it’s about taking that walk regardless, and walking with your head held high with pride that you deserve everything that you’ve worked for.”

Collaborating with a singer as extraordinary and sought-after as Lisa Fischer is itself a mark of self-assurance and determination. Fischer’s tone and delivery are magical on Harold Arlen’s “Blues in the Night,” as is her emotional connection to the source material on Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” Solos by Evans and guest trumpeter Nicholas Payton further stoke the fires. Payton is also heard on the leadoff track “All That I Am,” one of two (the other being Marvin Gaye’s “Save the Children”) to feature the progressive neo-soul adventurer Bilal, Evans’ fellow Philadelphia son.

Joanna Pascale, a Philadelphian as well, one of the city’s jazz vocal treasures, is in swinging form on “Sunday in New York,” by the late Philly Pops conductor Peter Nero. Another one-of-a-kind Philly vocalist, Paul Jost, joins for “If,” a ’70s soft-rock radio hit by Bread, utterly transformed by Todd Bashore’s enigmatic arrangement; and “Dislocation Blues,” by the late blues and roots artist Chris Whitley, featuring Jesse Fischer’s blues-drenched organ, deep in dialogue with Evans’ acoustic pianism.

Evans prefers the Captain Black Big Band to be a platform for others, not himself, and so we hear potent statements not only from the singers but also Bashore on alto, Caleb Wheeler Curtis on tenor and soprano and Reggie Watkins on trombone. And yet Evans’ poetic rubato flight on “Hymn,” by founding CBBB trumpeter John Raymond, is one of the album’s most gripping improvisations. “That’s the second time we recorded that song,” Evans reveals (the previous version did not make the final cut for Presence). “But this time I felt like we really got it. I haven’t even told John yet. For years he was such an essential part of the band. Now he’s teaching out there in Indiana and doing amazing things, so we haven’t played with him as much, but we miss him.”

The producer of Walk a Mile in My Shoe is listed as “The Village” along with Evans: it’s all the members, past and present, his musical family writ large, the thing he values above all else. Even how he came into possession of his distinctive cane involves the village: “The cane was given to me by Will Calhoun [of Living Colour]. We did a gig at The Bottom Line in the mid-’90s with Stanley Jordan, and Will showed up with gifts, a special walking stick for everybody. That cane was my gift, but I didn’t need to use it at the time so I put it up on the wall.” Years later, when knee and ankle problems arose, Evans started putting Calhoun’s gift to regular use. He had it modified to better suit his height, mailed it off at one point for repair, even recovered it after leaving it in a hotel lobby (he had to wait six months).

“I feel like Will Calhoun gave me the cane to recognize my position in allowing everyone to walk in their own shoe, or shoes,” Evans concludes, distilling the Captain Black Big Band ethos down to its very core.

Photo Credit: Rob Davidson for Yamaha Pianos


7/5/24 – Montreal, Canada – Montreal International Jazz Festival 2024

7/6/24 – Cape May, NJ – Carney’s
7/10/24 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
8/10/24: Jazzmobile: Jazz on the Great Hill in Central Park New York, NY
8/14/24 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
9/11/24 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
9/15/24: Portsmouth, NH @ Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club
9/22/24: Pittsburgh, PA @ Pittsburgh Jazz Festival
9/27 – 9/29/2024 – Monterey, CA – Monterey Jazz Festival 2024
9/27/24 – Albuquerque, NM – Outpost Performance Space – 18th Annual New Mexico Jazz Festival
10/9/24 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
11/13/24 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
11/29/24: Philadelphia, PA @ Perelman Theater
12/1124 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live

RELEASE DATE: August 16, 2024

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