Pianist, composer, bandleader, educator, and arranger Orrin Evans traverses the vocabularies of swinging, blues-infused jazz, and spiritual jazz/avant-garde jazz traditions, as well as the Euro-canon. A two-time Grammy nominee and Pew Fellow, Evans’ stylistically polyglot compositions are influenced by the Black Music culture of his native Philadelphia and by a decade playing in the Mingus Big Band. He topped the “Rising Star - Pianist” category in 2018 DownBeat Critics Poll and was featured in DownBeat’s September 2021 edition. As a bandleader, Evans has led the Captain Black Big Band and has co-led the collective Tar Baby with drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Eric Revis. Recent ventures include a duo with guitarist Kevin Eubanks and the trio The Bad Plus. Bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr. are Evan’s partners in his working trio, which also comprises the rhythm section for the trumpeter Sean Jones. Evans, who made his first album, Justin Time, at age 21, has recorded albums for Smoke Sessions, Imani Records (the imprint he founded with his wife), Criss Cross, Palmetto, and Posi-Tone.
Recent performances include gigs for Terreno Comum and the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival, and with Luques Curtis (bass), Clarence Penn (drums), Alexia Bomtempo (vocals), and Leandro Pellegrino (guitar). Evans also curated the concert series “What’s Happening Wednesdays” at South Jazz Kitchen in Philadelphia and “Philly Meets New York,” which brought Philadelphia talent to Smoke Jazz Club in Manhattan, as well as the weekly jazz curriculum in Philadelphia public schools, sponsored by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ Jazz Standards programming division. He is currently the DC Jazz Festival’s Artist-in-Residence. Evans attended Rutgers University where he studied with NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron.