Trumpet player Peter Evans works in a wide variety of areas, including solo performance, chamber orchestras, performance art, free improvised settings, electro-acoustic music and composition. As a performer, Evans has been working to broaden the expressive range of his chosen instrument and enjoys playing with steady configurations of players and composers – include collaborations with such artists as Mary Halvorson, Steve Schick, Steve Beresford, Okkyung Lee, Clayton Thomas, Jim Black, Evan Parker, Tyshawn Sorey, John Zorn, Tony Buck, Mark Gould, Weasel Walter, Tobias Delius, Joel Ryan, and Christian Marclay. On November 4th at Roulette, The Peter Evans Quintet debuts a set of newly composed music commissioned by the Jerome Foundation.
ROULETTE: Tell us as about the work you’ll be doing at Roulette.
PETER EVANS: This ensemble is actually a working band. I am most comfortable working with steady groups of musicians and this particular ensemble has so much potential to realize a lot of different material. I met them the way musicians meet- you play somewhere, you talk, you see eye to eye about things enough to organize something. I met all these players through pretty different musical/social spheres and they didn’t really have separate histories together before we played as a band. In 2010 I was commissioned by the Donaueschingen Musiktage in Germany to do something for their “Jazz” day, and at the same time had an idea to make a record of this band, so with both of those pressures on me/us, we learned a set of music which became “Ghosts”. That album works very directly with manipulations of historic material, so I thought for the next batch of music we should do something different. The music for the Roulette concert is still taking shape, but I can say that it deals with more detailed relationships of the acoustic musicians to Sam’s electronics. I am always learning more about everyone’s capabilities and proclivities, not just Sam’s (although his are the hardest for a technologically handicapped person like myself to understand). So I’m using this knowledge to write a set that deals more with the visceral experience of “pure sound” than any kind of idiomatic conceit or historical area of music.
R: Are there working artists today with whose work you identify, or rather, who do you consider to be your peers?
PE: Yes, definitely. We are all in this together! A short list of peers I identify with and draw inspiration from (separate from the people performing tonight): Tyshawn Sorey, Nate Wooley, Charlie Looker, Jon Irabagon, Steve Lehman, the Wet Ink Composers, Nathan Davis, Yarn/Wire, Ambrose Akinmusire, Weasel Walter, Kevin Shea…
R: What was the last music you listened to?
PE: I am on a steady diet of Joe Henderson piano-less trio records that feature Al Foster on drums. There are many. This morning I listened to “Invitation” from “An Evening with Joe Henderson”. Aside from the fantastic squiggly saxophone solo which quotes “Tico Tico” at one point, there are some fantastic Al Foster beats. My favorite is the hi-hat closed on beat two and half closed on beat four. It sounds like a reverse swing cymbal beat at half tempo, and because the recording mix pans the ride cymbal hard right and hi-hat hard left, the effect is that of two drummers in mirror image.
R: What is music?
PE: It can be as varied as any other human activity. I enjoy it most when it is an uninhibited explosion of human imagination and creative energy.
R: Do you consider yourself more a composer or a performer?
PE: Since almost all of my playing activity involves some degree of improvisation on my instrument, I would say they are one and the same.
R: Is there an event or experience that led you to start in experimental media?
PE: A really important listening experience for me as a teenager was ”Trout Mask Replica”, by Captain Beefheart. I found the music baffling, frustrating, garbage-y and crowded. It fascinated me but also made me a little angry. And I couldn’t stop listening to it! Developing a kind of curiosity about music and finding out why things are the way they are, then tinkering yourself to see what happens with material seems to be the definition of “experimenting”. It basically got me through high school in one piece.
R: Who do you see as instrumental in your development as an artist?
PE: Well, of course I could list recordings that had a big effect on me and an assortment of people, some of whom have been dead for a long time, on those recordings. But the biggest boosts have come from actual people I’ve had the good fortune to play with or study under. Tim Weiss at the Oberlin Conservatory, Moppa Elliott, my (ahem) “boss” in Mostly Other People do the Killing, Evan Parker, Mark Gould are a few people who have helped me break through some important aesthetic/philosophical walls over the past 10 years or so. I would say all of them have had a big role in my development.
R: What is interesting to you about your own work?
PE: This must be a trick question.
R: Do you do other things aside from music?