This video footage of the Bill Evans Trio was filmed for the television show "In The Jazz Set" in 1972.
In 1968, Marty Morell joined the trio on drums and remained until 1975, when he retired to family life. This was Evans's most stable, longest-lasting group. Evans had kicked his heroin habit and was entering a period of personal stability as well. The group made several albums, including "From Left to Right" (1970), which features Evans's first use of electric piano; "The Bill Evans Album" (1971), which won two Grammies; "The Tokyo Concert" (1973); "Since We Met" (1974); and "But Beautiful" (1974), featuring the trio plus legendary tenor saxophonist Stan Getz in live performances from Holland and Belgium, released posthumously in 1996. Morell was an energetic, straight-ahead drummer, unlike many of the trio's former percussionists, and many critics feel that this was a period of little growth for Evans. After Morell left, Evans and Gomez recorded two duo albums, Intuition and Montreux III.
In 1974, Bill Evans recorded a multimovement jazz concerto specifically written for him by Claus Ogerman entitled Symbiosis, originally released on the MPS Records label. The 1970s also saw Evans collaborate with the singer Tony Bennett on 1975's The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album and 1977's Together Again.
On September 13, 1975, Evans's son, Evan, was born. Evan Evans did not often see his always-touring father. A child prodigy, he embarked on a career in film scoring, ambitiously attending college courses in 20th-century composition, instrumentation, and electronic composition at the age of ten. He also studied with many of his father's contemporaries, including Lalo Schifrin and harmony specialist Bernard Maury.
In 1976, Marty Morell was replaced on drums by Eliot Zigmund. Several interesting collaborations followed, and it was not until 1977 that the trio was able to record an album together. Both I Will Say Goodbye (Evans's last album for Fantasy Records) and You Must Believe in Spring (for Warner Bros., released posthumously) highlighted changes that would become significant in the last stage of Evans's career. A greater emphasis was placed on group improvisation and interaction, Evans was reaching new expressive heights in his soloing, and new experiments with harmony and keys were attempted.
Gomez and Zigmund left Evans in 1978. Evans then asked Philly Joe Jones, the drummer he considered his "all-time favorite drummer" and with whom he had recorded his second album in 1957, to fill in. Several bassists were tried, with the remarkable Michael Moore staying the longest. Evans finally settled on Marc Johnson on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums. This trio was Evans's last. Although they released only one record before Evans's death in 1980 (The Paris Concert, Edition One and Edition Two, 1979), they rivaled (and arguably exceeded) the first trio in their powerful group interactions. Evans stated that this was possibly his best trio, a claim supported by the many recordings that have since surfaced, each documenting the remarkable musical journey of his final year. The Debussylike impressionism of the first trio had given way to a dark and urgent yet undeniably compelling, deeply moving (if not mesmerizing) romantic expressionism.
Evans's Rusyn ancestry is sometimes confused with a "Russian" ethnic background. His music reflects Russian titans like the Rachmaninoffesque pianism of his brooding constructions and the Shostakovich-like "Danse Macabre" modal explorations of "Nardis", the piece he reworked each time it served as the finale of his performances. But the "anticipatory meter" that Evans deliberately perfected with his last trio reflects late Ravel, especially the controversial second half of the French composer's dark and turbulent La Valse. The recording documenting Evans's playing during the week preceding his death is the valedictory "The Last Waltz." Many albums and compilations have been released in recent years, including three multidisc boxed sets: Turn Out the Stars (Warner Bros.), The Last Waltz, and Consecration. The Warner Bros. set is a selection of material from Evans's final residency at New York's Village Vanguard club, nearly two decades after his classic performances there with the La Faro/Motian trio; the other two are drawn from his performances at San Francisco's Keystone Korner the week before his death.