Gabriel Evan Orchestra – Island Hopping

Gabriel Evan Orchestra – Island Hopping

May 5, 2024

Gabriel Evan – Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Shaker, Clave
Charlie Halloran – Trombone
Josh Dunn – Guitar
Kris Tokarski – Piano
Pete Olynciw – Upright Bass
Jafet Perez – Drum Set, Bongos, Cajon

Gabriel Evan’s third album Island Hopping is a continuation of his exploration into Caribbean Jazz and early-mid twentieth century folk music that began with his last record Global Entry. The influences range from Cuba’s own Lecuona Cuban Boys down to Venezuela’s Lionel Belasco, and everywhere in between.

Pani Ti Moun, an early 1930’s beguine from the island of Martinique, sets the tone for the record with its highly danceable groove. Carmencita (1933) – one of two classic Lionel Belasco waltzes on the record – presents the more languid and delicate side of the album, with Evan and trombonist Charlie Halloran trading passages back and forth. Halloran himself runs Charlie & the Tropicales, a New Orleans based 60’s-style Caribbean lounge band, making him – as well as bandmates Jafet Perez and Pete Olynciw – a perfect fit for the record.

Boychick Calypso, the first original track on the record, rings true to its title (Boychick means ‘young boy’ in Yiddish), as its playful melody brings a child-like energy to the listeners’ ears. Jafet shows off with his fills and keeps the energy high throughout the piece, all in support of the four soloists. Habana Hammock – the album’s second Evan original – invokes the more placid side of the record. The simple melody and lazy island groove established by pianist Kris Tokarski transport the listener to an isolated beach, lounging seaside without a care in the world. Guitarist Josh Dunn, who traveled down to the Crescent City from NYC to record with Evan and co., plays a calming and introspective solo, one of the best on the record.

This ambitious 15 track album also includes higher octane numbers like Asi Parè, Lamoula Créole and Rumba Blanca mixed with more elegant songs like Tes Yeux, Flor de Yumuri and Amor (Bolero). Island Hopping is the perfect summer album: an exquisite early-mid century Caribbean revue that anyone, familiar or not with this music, needs to hear.

Release Date: Friday, June 7th 2024