Leonard Auskern, Jazz Square, Minsk, 2007

Translated from Russian by Jill Doherty

I don't have the statistics at hand but, judging by the discs with jazz vocals which one has occasion to listen to, the correlation between female vocalists and male vocalists is about eight to one. For this reason, every new meeting with a male jazz vocal, by definition, is intriguing and if it's a new name, even more so.

Steve Evans is a new name. This young vocalist lives and works in Chicago, which immediately forces one to remember his famous countryman Kurt Elling, but Steve sings completely differently. His manner of singing is completely different, too, from that of Kevin Mahogany who taught Steve jazz singing for two years at the celebrated Berklee College of Music. Steve's vocalizing is a completely unique fusion of academic technique and the power of the voice, of jazz intonation and repertoire, primarily oriented toward the creativity of the best bards of rock.

Evans began studying the art of classical singing, then got interested in the theater, studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, worked with the Russian masters of theater George Zhdanov and Slava Dolgachev, and only then returned to jazz, the impetus for which was the album he just happened to buy with the recording of John Coltraine and Johnny Hartman.

This album of two discs, modestly named "Two Sets", was recorded in July of this past year. As already mentioned above, one immediately notices the selection of compositions for the album which I can only evaluate as outstandingly creatively courageous. Three songs of Nick Drake and Tom Waits are on the program (Steve's performance of Jockey Full of Bourbon by Waits is my personal favorite on the album,) compositions of Arto Lindsay, Van Morrison, Milton Nacimento (a deep bow in the direction of Latin jazz , indeed Steve performs it in the original language.) The most unusual track of the album is Corpus Christi Carol of the great 20th century British composer Benjamin Britten. This piece reminds one that Steve began his journey in art with classical singing Evans, a new name for us in jazz singing, was immediately able to mark his creative niche and demonstrate his brilliant individuality. It's an extremely varied and interesting album, only the second for Steve and the first to which we are introducing our readers, forcing us to wait with enthusiasm for new encounters with this singer.