Eyope, Elevation (Independent)

Eyope is an acronym for “elevate your own personal expression” and this new band’s debut EP, Elevation, is a statement of purpose for a new project led by multi-instrumentalist Evan Oberla. 

Though Oberla’s primary instrument is trombone, he plays in the brass-driven ensemble Brass Lightning, and tours and performs with local acts Sexual Thunder and Miss Mojo. He also sings and plays keys and percussion on this latest effort. Oberla has also released two records of original material; the hip-hop driven Here from EOP and the jazz-oriented May Your Vice Be Nice by the RFG Quintet. 

The music on Elevation is groove-oriented with elements of hip-hop, soul and R&B mingling in a concoction that demands to be heard live. Oberla’s trombone is at the center of the first two cuts, “Parish” and “Afternoon Samba.” 

The third cut, “Dizzy,” veers into some seriously soulful terrain and features the contributions of the first ringer Oberla has recruited for this fascinating collection, vocalist Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph. Best known for her work with Tank and the Bangas as well being a featured singer with the Pinettes Brass Band and more recently, Galactic, she enlivens the proceedings with wordless vocal inflections and nails the chorus. Jamison Ross, the award- winning drummer and vocalist, sings a soaring lead on “Don’t Get it Twisted.” 

Oberla proves to be an adept singer in his own right. With production by guitarist Andrew Block, who also appears on one track, his vocal work is set perfectly in this very modern production that reaches back as it simultaneously stretches forward. 

The final and title cut, “Elevation,” which opens with Ari Kohn’s samba jazz-influenced flute work, is the strongest tune on this adventurous recording. It features a full horn section and an arrangement that sums up the band’s mission statement.