Clarinetist Evan Christopher is a refreshingly bright light on the international jazz scene. His unique brand of contemporary early jazz combines virtuosity and immaculate taste with a deep commitment to exploring the full range of possibilities of the traditions of New Orleans Jazz. Mr. Christopher’s highly personal voice is anchored in the musical language created by early Creole clarinetists such as Sidney Bechet, Omer Simeon, and Barney Bigard with particular emphasis on the flexibility and distinct rhythmic character of the clarinet as it has evolved throughout “Le Monde Créole".
He left his native Long Beach, California in 1994 to be a part of the New Orleans music community and with varied work ranging from Al Hirt to Galactic, he quickly established himself as an important advocate for New Orleans music. Recognized worldwide as an ambassador extending the legacy of the clarinet in jazz, Mr. Christopher tours with his own bands Django à la Créole and the JazzTraditions Project, and also as a featured soloist with groups such as the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. The Remembering Song with Bucky Pizzarelli, Delta Bound featuring pianist Dick Hyman, and his Clarinet Road series are among the recordings under his own name and he is featured on many others alongside New Orleans artists including Duke Heitger, Irvin Mayfield, Big Al Carson and Tom McDermott.
Mr Christopher’s dynamic presentations are informed by his passion for musicological study, which he shares generously in outreach as a community artist. Artist residencies abroad, and work at schools including the University of New Orleans are indicators of his ongoing efforts to impart the spirit of the music younger musicians as well as students and enthusiasts of New Orleans culture. As a composer, his original songs are the high point of CDs such as Delta Bound (Arbors Records, 2007), The Remembering Song (Arbors Records 2010), as well as the Grammy-winning New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s release, Book One. In July 2010, he will debut an original work in a concert with the Minnesota Symphony. This commission is to be the first concerto written for clarinet in the New Orleans style.
Mr. Christopher began his musical training on clarinet at age 11. In high school, he received the Louis Armstrong National Jazz Award and was one of the first graduates of the prestigious Idyllwild Arts Academy. He continued studies at the University of Southern California and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach before moving to New Orleans.
His published research and academic presentations on the New Orleans clarinet style initiated the pursuit of a Masters degree in Musicology at Tulane University. In August of 2005, the Federal levee failures that flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina sent him traveling continuously on “Clarinet Road” until he returned in November of 2007.
"A forthright sound and a hungry energy" New York Times