There were numerous instances Monday night at the Mecca studio on Manchester that folks couldn’t help but think they were on the receiving end of an air raid. Credit that to the siren-like wails and guttural swipes performed on trumpet and piccolo trumpet by Peter Evans.
During two sets of untitled improvisations – the first was unaccompanied; the second enlisted University of Kentucky instructors Raleigh Dailey on keyboards and Rui Li on flugelhorn – New Yorker Evans conjured textured percussive sounds, raspy drones and whispery ambience from his horns. But no effect was more staggering than the brassy soars on trumpet that Evans designed at least once in both sets that possessed the tonality and immediacy (and, depending where you were sitting last night, the volume) of an incoming bomber.
An Oberlin Conservatory graduate whose decade-long stay in New York’s avant garde and improvised music communities has produced fruitful alliances with, among other jazz giants, Evan Parker, Evans devoted the first set’s solo improvisations to deconstructing the trumpet – literally, and in terms of sonic expectations.
During the second improv, he removed the trumpet’s mouthpiece and played the instrument on its side with his left hand almost as a percussive device. His right hand tapped out punctured sounds on the piccolo trumpet, a four-valve horn roughly half the size of a regular trumpet. The oscillating incantation that resulted was truly otherworldly.
The second set was more intriguing simply because it was less of a technical display and more an exchange of ideas.
The second of the set’s three improvs was where the interplay hit its peak, with Evans, Dailey and Li entering and exiting at various intervals. Dailey essentially stayed in the background, using the keys as a modest but dark backdrop. But at the height of the improv, he and Evans (on regular trumpet) squared off for a bold stretch of dialogue that steadily heightened and intensified in tone and color as it grew.
The performance drew to a close with Evans soloing over stark keyboard accents on pocket trumpet. As was the case for much of the performance, the tiny instrument proved more than capable of matching the huge sense of invention Evans pumped into it.