"Toxic monkey represents the no holds barred concept of out of control semi-restraint," Evans says, "or in some circles its called OCSR. We thought the name really captures this band. It's not a fusion of anything. It's some musicians who come from different backgrounds who like to create music together. Everyone adds their own spice to the mix."
Joining Evans up front is Steve Lukather, the guitarist of the famed rock band Toto from the late '70s and early '80s. "I met Steve Lukather while doing a rock & roll project in Germany a few years ago," says Evans. "I was amazed at the freedom of expression that Lukather has on the guitar. Very few guitar plays play with as much passion and fire as he does." Steve Weingart was introduced to Evans by Lukather. "Weingart is one of the secret weapons of the keyboard. Amazing player," says Evans. Will Lee and Keith Carlock, whose chemistry Evans describes as "totally unique," hold down the bass and drum chairs, respectively, and are among the most versatile musicians on the scene today.
"I personally get inspired by fresh music thats full of passion," says Evans. "No one holds back in this band. If you are in the room when we play, you can't help but feel the energy emanating from the bandstand. Sometimes its rock and roll, sometimes funk, sometimes jazz. But its fun all the time!"
It is no surprise that Bill Evans has been called a renaissance man more than once. He has explored a variety of musical settings that go well beyond the confines of traditional jazz. Beginning his career with Miles Davis at the age of 22 (Bill appeared on six recordings with Davis), followed by John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock and Mick Jagger, just to name a few.
This set the tone for multiple Grammy nominations, culminating in his Soulgrass Band, a powerful and eclectic blend of quintessential American styles. His 2006 Grammy nominated Soulgrass CD, featuring Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglass, Victor Wooten among others, is a seamless and wholly unique hybrid of American styles. The 2007 follow up The Other Side Of Something pushes the Soulgrass genre even further. Bill's 2009 release called Vans Joint features the Grammy award winning WDR Big band playing ten of Bill's compositions arranged by Mike Abene and recorded live in Germany.
The spring of 2010 found Bill touring Japan and Asia With the Randy Brecker/Bill Evans Soulbop Band which featured Steve Lukather, Robben Ford, Darryl Jones and Steve Weingart. Bill then teamed up with guitarist Robben ford and toured the summer European music festivals of 2010 with the Bill Evans/Robben Ford Soulgrass Meets Blues. Bill is also heard on the 2010 release The Allman Brothers Band Live at the United Palace Theatre, NYC.
It is not uncommon to see Bill sit-in with old friend Willie Nelson one night (Willie was a guest on Bills Big Fun CD of 2002), and then jam hard with guitarist Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule, or the Allman Brothers Band the next night.
Bill says “I love playing all kinds of music. To me that is the definition of jazz. I have been influenced and inspired to play everything from jazz to rock & roll to Appalachian roots music. I feel fortunate to get the opportunity to play with the people who represent the best of those genres. That is what inspires me the most. I love playing with the banjo, mandolin, guitar, etc. For me they open up a whole new and refreshing sound for me to explore."
The saxman has been touring almost exclusively with his own band since 1990, playing well over seventy-five concerts per year worldwide. He has recorded fifteen solo cd’s and received two Grammy nominations, one for Soul Insider (2002) and the other for Soulgrass (2006).
Bluenote.net, November 2010