Bill Evans set the standard for the modern piano trio, a template that still holds today. All the musicians on this disc have a connection with the late legend: drummer Paul Motian and bassist Eddie Gomez played in Evans’ trio (albeit separately) during his prime, and Chick Corea is one of the many pianists who regard him as a major influence. This two-disc live set reflects upon Evans’ legacy, and it’s as good as it sounds on paper.
Although it features several tunes made famous by Evans, including “Peri’s Scope” and “Gloria’s Step,” this isn’t strictly a tribute album. Rather, the trio takes the lessons Evans imparted and — as the title indicates — pushes them into new territory. There’s original material that demonstrates Evans’ harmonic and thematic influence, such as Motian’s elegantly spare “Mode VI.”
Corea, naturally, is the principal focus. Stylistically, he’s a more percussive and kinetic player than Evans was. But at times, as on “They Say That Falling in Love Is Wonderful” and “But Beautiful,” he displays a fluid delicacy that would make Evans proud. But one of Evans’ lasting legacies is the concept that the trio should function as more than the sum of its parts, and there’s no better drummer to bring this point home than Motian, who built his legend on the ability to prod group interaction with the lightest of touches. Gomez is equally comfortable playing straightahead walking bass lines as he is weaving sinewy figures. Together the three transform individual virtuosity into a cohesive unit.
On top of everything, this disc will likely stand as one of the last recordings featuring Motian, who died last November. It’s now a fitting tribute to two towering legends.
—John Frederick Moore