The Arts Council is proud to present the second performer in our Evenings of Intimate Jazz Series: Evan Christopher!
Evan Christopher is a refreshingly bright light on the national and international jazz scene. He combines virtuosity, immaculate taste and the youthful resources of energy and enthusiasm with a deep commitment to capturing the full range of musical possibilities that come from having strong roots in the idioms of early Jazz and the Creole clarinet style. Christopher was born in Long Beach, California and began his musical training on clarinet at the age of 11. In high school, he was a recipient of the Louis Armstrong National Jazz Award and was one of the first graduates of the prestigious Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts. He continued his studies at the University of Southern California on music scholarships and graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in music from California State University, Long Beach.
After working, touring and recording with various bands and artists in California, Christopher moved to New Orleans where he rapidly made a name for himself. He became in great demand, appearing with top musicians as stylistically varied as veterans of Preservation Hall and Al Hirt to funk and brass bands like the Nightcrawlers and Galactic, but, in 1996, he accepted an offer to join the renowned Jim Cullum Jazz Band in San Antonio, Texas. During his three year stint with this band, he made regular national radio broadcasts as their featured clarinetist on their National Public Radio show: Riverwalk: Live from the Landing and accompanied artists such as Dick Hyman, William Warfield, and Topsy Chapman. This Side of Evan (1998) is among the many CD’s he has recorded under his own name and also as a guest artist for bands in New Orleans, Texas and California.
Having returned to New Orleans in 2001, Christopher has established himself as an important part of the Crescent City music scene. He has had research on the New Orleans clarinet style published and appears frequently with New Orleans musicians in the U.S. and Europe. In 2002, New Orleans Magazine included him among their annual “Jazz All-Stars” as an artist to watch.
As an improviser, Christopher has lots of tools — equal facility in the full range of his instrument, switching in and out of triplet phrasing, storytelling and theme building. But what impresses you most about his solos is their immediacy. He has a thick tone with a hoarse edge, and he’ll often play a simple phrase with complicated emotion rather than vice versa; he’s not glib or lighthearted. It’s strong stuff. When asked why he chose the clarinet, Christopher says, “I blame Artie Shaw. I read his autobiography, and I knew I wanted to grow up to be a grumpy old man.”
Christopher’s approach builds on these antecedents by adding an even stronger Creole flavor to the mix, redolent of Jelly Roll Morton’s “Spanish tinge” and making use of the “Habanera” rhythm. His group also adds rhythmic elements from Cuba, the Caribbean and even Brazil. The result is a vibrant music that appeals to contemporary audiences. Christopher’s sound is thoroughly organic, unforced and natural.
The Evan Christopher Trio will perform SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18 at 8:00pm. Tickets are $30.00 each. For tickets call 770-534-2787 or visit www.theartscouncil.net