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CHICK COREA

 

Date 10 August 2005 at 8pm Venue Orpheum Theatre

Reviewer John Jane


“Played with the best” is an oft-used phrase to describe an artist’s success by his collaborations. Chick Corea requires no such approbation! After all, he has played with the legends. Following a stint as Sarah Vaughn’s accompanist, he became part of the Miles Davis group that created the ground-breaking, electric jazz-rock opus, Bitches Brew.

It’s a widely held belief that Corea is probably the most technically accomplished jazz pianist alive today. His harmonic language is instantly recognizable, and his playing is the best since his days as leader of the influential Jazz Rock Fusion band, “Return to Forever.”

Renee Rosnes, herself a talented pianist and composer, introduced the trio of drummer Jeff Ballard, bassist Christian McBride and Chick Corea as individual musicians rather than a unit. Though it wasn’t likely apparent to many in the audience that this evening’s performance was their first together -- until Corea mentioned it with his typical, tongue-in-cheek humour.

The opening number, a jaunty rendition of "That Old Feeling," soon had the trio clicking together with Corea offering up his familiar syncopated cascades.

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The band continued to take shape with sonic explorations of the music of Thelonious Monk with the free-wheeling, “Think of One" and a tribute to Bud Powell in their hauntingly spare interpretation of “Dusk in Sandi.”

Like many gifted artists, Corea can simultaneously be an inspirational leader and a dedicated follower. His percussive style seemed to connect with drummer Ballard, giving him ideas that he developed into even more elaborate statements.

The audience actually relished the trio’s spontaneity even finding delight in their addling over what they should be playing.

Individually, McBride and Ballard are well acquainted with the personal expression of their leader’s music. Corea seemed comfortable, if not always inspired, following their lead on a couple of tunes that were left unnamed, frequently leaving his piano to support Ballard on percussion with the cowbell.

The trio interacted well together and had a well-balanced sense of form without overextending the tunes.

2005 John Jane