EVANS IN ENGLAND
Before the tour on which this previously unreleased double album was recorded at Ronnie Scott’s in London, Bill Evans’ mother caught the pianist’s trio in Washington DC. Coming backstage, she said she couldn’t hear her son because Marty Morrell’s drums were too loud. Following no less than Paul Motian and Jack DeJohnette into the band, Morrell took this on board, swapping a Zildjian cymbal for a softer Paiste Flat Ride, and going on to complete Evans’s longest-lived trio with bassist Eddie Gomez.
Morrell was an unusual choice: less daring or inclined to be an equal third of the musical conversation than Motian; more agricultural than DeJohnette’s skipping finesse. Nonetheless he played with an undeniable effervescence that Evans must have prized. It built contrast into the band, and, at a time (1969) when the pianist’s elegiac side found little favour with the counter-culture movement, arguably gave the music more emphasis on momentum. This lovingly restored bootleg has occasional minor sonic glitches, but infinitely more often you hear a fine piano singing with Evans’ limpid voicings and crystalline lines, while Gomez dances around him or plays his own supremely lyrical solos.