Live Review: Al Scott Trio at The Verdict
Al Scott Trio : “A Tribute to Bill Evans”
The Verdict, Brighton
Saturday 16th August 2014
A Bill Evans tribute gig may seem like a fairly safe bet for a pianist, given Evans’ enduring popularity and his adherence to the economically viable trio format for so many of his classic recordings, but in fact it presents a number of challenges. The ubiquity of his influence has led to certain elements of his style becoming degraded and overfamiliar, so that any cocktail trio playing a hushed version of “Autumn Leaves” could be sold as an Evans tribute.
Al Scott managed to rise to the occasion with a performance that was never less than heartfelt and occasionally truly inspired. From the opener It’s A Start, a minor-key, impressionistic original, through to the second set’s energetic version of Two Lonely People, it was apparent that Scott was set on re-interpreting Evans’ muse rather than merely re-creating it. His own piano style combined Evans’ fleet-fingered lyricism with unexpected substitutions and angular rhythmic figures that made his pithy, impassioned solos on Days of Wine and Roses and Periscope seem truly original statements. Jack Kendon on trumpet and flugelhorn added a commanding extra voice, with a particularly assertive solo on Funkarello drawing warm applause. A reverent reading of Blue In Green came alive for an unexpected swinging double-time section, while Re:Person I Knew benefitted from the extra texture as Scott switched to Fender Rhodes mid-song. Nick Pini on bass delighted the audience with several beautifully structured and technically impressive solos, honouring the Evans tradition of the virtuoso bassist, while Peter Adam Hill on drums was tastefully supportive or powerfully swinging as the occasion demanded. The band’s focus wandered slightly during the second set, but the warmth and camaraderie evident in their performance carried them through and left the sold-out club shouting for more.
Al Scott, Piano; Jack Kendon, Trumpet and Flugelhorn; Nick Pini, Bass; Peter Adam Hill, Drums