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Artist Profiles

Chick Corea

By Published: September 7, 2004
The Elektric Band generally is considered a good, not great, stretch in Corea's career, but this album is a definite highlight for fans and those into reasonably eclectic modern fusion. The compositions are generally the strongest, if not most commercial accessible, Corea wrote for the band and everyone gets plenty of chances to stretch out in a settling they obviously had become familiar with. Of particular note is the 20-minute, four-part "Tale Of Daring" at the end of the album—a four-minute piano and drum battle between Corea and Weckl on part three is a staggering display of frenzied interaction nearly worth the price of the album by itself.

Alive (1991)

A love-it-or-hate-it outing, as Corea forms his Akoustic Band with Patitucci and Weckl and infuses a hefty fusion presence into a set of standards and originals in a "live" set. Incredibly high energy outing, especially during the first half, and fans of Weckl will find some of his most intense work ever on the opening "On Green Dolphin Street" and Corea's "Humpty Dumpty." Critics say—with some justification - there's little intellectual heft.

Play (1992)

This Grammy-winning live session with vocalist Bobby McFerrin is another polarizing album, either loved as a fun-spirited performance or hated as shallow and misguided. Corea isn't breaking any new ground here, so the appeal largely depends on how much the listener wants to hear McFerrin use his voice to supply bass and rhythm parts to standards like "Spain" and "Blue Bossa." Average everything out and the result is two top-notch performers having an OK day—enough to make it a worthwhile listen. The pair collaborate again with an orchestra in 1996's The Mozart Sessions and Corea delivers some interesting improvisational moments, but the overall results are more straightforward and less interesting.

Return To The Seventh Galaxy (1996)

A double-CD featuring, in theory, highlights from the first two Return To Forever groups plus about 40 minutes of previously unreleased music. It's a very good choice for listeners new to RTF or who are looking for more after purchasing their first album, but those with a more complete collection may not find the additional material worth the expense.

Native Sense (1997)

This generally well-regarded reunion with Gary Burton resulted in another Grammy award. Most of the songs—some old, some new—are lengthy and both players show they have a lot of ideas left to share with each other. Particularly noteworthy are a harmonically complex "No Mystery" and an unusual bop treatment of Thelonious Monk's "Four On One."

Remembering Bud Powell (1997)

Probably the safest bet for a quality traditional jazz outing, as there is little disagreement it ranks among his top ventures into that field. The sextet tribute to one of Corea's mentors features a top-tier cast—including sax players Kenny Garrett and Joshua Redman, plus a reunion with Haynes—each of whom add their own modern touches to Powell's work. That's both the strength and weakness of the album; an up-tempo version of "Oblivion," for example, is a fascinating take on Powell's original, although one critic calls it "almost antagonistic."

Origin: Live At The Blue Note (1997) and A Week At The Blue Note (1998)

These are good, not great, performances by a new sextet of players brought in by Corea. The high- energy acoustic sessions deserve consideration from fans largely because it is the pianist's only easily available boxed set as of summer 2004. Listeners can audition the single CD without fear before deciding if they're interested in the six-disc set, since each features different performances.

Corea Concerto (1999)

A radical—but highly noteworthy and Grammy winning—live performance of Corea's first original symphonic work, featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra and his Origin group performing a Mozart-inspired concerto and perhaps the definitive version of "Spain." Corea plays with as much passion here as any of his albums, most everyone else is equal to the task, and in short this is as fine a blend of of classical and jazz as anyone can reasonably expect to hear.

Past, Present And Futures (2001)

This trio album with two other members of Origin is one of Corea's strongest jazz efforts in recent years. He is aided greatly by bassist Avishai Cohen, who plays with a depth and freshness equal to the best of anything else found in Corea's discography. Corea elevates his game as well, showing great creativity across a wide range of songs without retreating into comfort food riffs or novelties to catch the ear. Can easily be a starting point for listeners wanting to hear Corea in a mainstream setting.

Rendezvous In New York (2003)


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