Although saxophonist Michael S. Doyle organized the quintet a decade ago, this is only the second recording from the Grand Rapids, MI, based Evidence. With a sound that echoes the classic hard bop of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, enhanced by Latin rhythms in spots, Evidence provides a great example of how much great jazz is being made by regional groups around the US, and how worthwhile it is to take the occasional chance on an unknown, little recorded act from out of town when you're shopping for new music.
All nine tracks are original compositions, although drummer Quincy Davis, who penned three of the numbers, had departed the group by the time this album was cut. His replacement, Fred Knapp, fills his chair admirably, though, both as a player and as a composer, as Knapp's own tune, "Susan," demonstrates. The remaining tracks are contributed by Doyle, pianist Steve Talaga and bassist Tom Lockwood. Regardless of source, each song provides a fine structure for some great straight-ahead soloing by the members of the band.
A variety of guest percussionists are aboard to add some Latin flavor to the group's efforts, but it's the excellent ensemble and solo play of the five principle members that makes Soulville
an excellent way to get familiar with Evidence.