As both a bassist and an arranger-composer, Sam Bevan was an important part of the San Francisco Bay jazz scene for 16 years until he moved to New York in 2016. On Emergence, he uses some of his favorite Northern California musicians to introduce nine new compositions that he performs at the head of a quintet that also includes altoist Kasey Knudsen, Cory Wright on tenor and bass clarinet, either Ian Carey or Henry Hung on trumpet, and drummer Eric Garland along with a few guests. Bevan’s music has memorable themes, original chord changes and grooves, covers a wide variety of moods, features inventive rhythmic interplay, and is filled with unpredictable moments. His utilization of the three horns make the ensembles sound as if they are being played by a much larger band. The performances utilize repetition creatively, are episodic, evolve as they progress, and range from hard bop to freer explorations.
The highlights on Emergenceinclude: “H & A”: Starting out with an ominous feel, the piece becomes more light-hearted as altoist Knudsen plays over Bevan’s danceable bass line. “Old Cool”: Trumpeter Carey and Cory Wright on his atmospheric bass clarinet are in the spotlight during a relaxed song which harks back to days of classic hard bop. “Wide and Awake”: A riff played at first by Wright on bass clarinet and taken over by Bevan’s bass gives this piece the feel of a caravan. “Blues For CM”: The quintet plays free bop that is worthy of Ornette Coleman, music that swings while being free from chords. “Nellowee’s Waltz”: The closing ballad has mellow and wistful playing from Wright on bass clarinet. Emergenceis full of colorful solos from each of the musicians. But Sam Bevan deserves the main credit for the project’s success. He not only contributes bass playing that keeps the ensembles tight and provides a strong forward momentum, but challenging yet memorable compositions and the continually changing frameworks that inspires his musicians. Born in Oakand and growing up in Salt Lake City, Sam Bevan had classical piano lessons from the age of four, sang and played piano professionally, and earned a BA in French before dedicating himself to the bass and composing. Greatly in demand after moving back to Northern California in 1999, Bevan’s versatility and creativity while performing jazz, funk, r&b, folk, and Afro-Cuban music kept him constantly busy with stimulating projects. He has repeated his success since moving to New York. Throughout his very productive career, Sam Bevan has worked with such artists and groups as David Grisman, Roswell Rudd, Joshua Redman, Monk’s Music Trio, Mark Levine, singer Kenny Washington, Stacey Kent, Meklit Hadero, Peter Apfelbaum, Roberta Donnay, Jacqui Naylor, Zigaboo Modeliste, Bjorkestra, Jim Kweskin, Maria Muldaur, Houston Person, Joe Locke, Jackie Ryan, Roberta Donnay, Industrial Jazz Group and the Matt Flinner Trio. He also has three previous CDs as a leader.
Emergence is Sam Bevan’s most exciting release to date, a mature and enthusiastic statement that points the way forward for 21st century jazz.