Chick Corea: Rendezvous In New York
This is the furthest journey back in time as bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Roy Haynes join Corea in a reunion of their 1967 recording, one of the pianist's first projects as a leader (they also reunited during the early 1980s). Corea, working with Haynes as part of saxophonist Stan Getz's quartet at the time, said he liked Haynes' "bubbling" technique and recruited Vitous after hearing what he described as a loose and unique style. All three remain in top form and show it on this DVD, but it doesn't satisfy the way the best of the collection does. Partially it may be the original album was fresher, as Corea was shifting from hard-bop toward freer jazz during what some consider the best work of his career. The current performance lacks some of that edge and too often the pianist dominates with the skilled, but familiar, chops heard often during the latter part of his career. Some purists are likely to be more kind, especially toward Haynes and Vitous, but ultimately other discs with more distinction also end up being of greater interest.
Disc 3: Remembering Bud Powell Band
One of the highlights and it's hard to image otherwise, given the lineup and Powell's influence on Corea. The quintet's 1997 album is often considered the best of Corea's latter years and their reunion of all-Powell material is a lively session of tight, strong bop with modern flair. There are a mere three songs (the first combining two compositions), giving everyone more than ample space. Trumpeter Terence Blanchard and saxophonist Joshua Redman are at their no-nonsense best, whether trading shots or soloing at length. Haynes, one of three sidemen appearing more than once, plays with more energy (although some may argue less supremacy) than Disc 2, and his exchanges with Corea on "Oblivion" have the distinctiveness and humor of a children's storybook. The drummer shines again at the end of the closing "Un Poco Loco," icing on the well-played and well- arranged buildup from the collective.
Disc 4: Chick Corea And Gary Burton Duet
Perhaps the most sedate performance, it's likely to be subject to mixed opinions. But it succeeds in its goal of showcasing the compatibility of communication and technique the two have developed from occasional projects since the late 1960s. Corea calls the vibraphonist a master at wringing sophisticated thoughts and timbres from a primitive instrument, and subtlety is indeed the watchword throughout this disc. Corea backs off much of the obvious shadings some of the other sessions are overly colored by, and the understated volume and pace should not be mistaken for lack of intensity. The concentration between two is evident and it's a case where their combined timbres deserves as much concentration as their phrasing.
Disc 5: Chick Corea Akoustic Band
Corea's subset of the popular Elektric Band is note-for-note worthy in their reunion after roughly 15 years, with bassist John Patitucci and drummer Dave Weckl playing standards closer to the sophistication of their acclaimed studio disc than their blazing but less well-received live album (I confess I'm among those preferring the latter). That means Weckl isn't doing extended 21st century fusion-like wailing on "Humpty Dumpty" (moments like that put me in the minority preferring their latter album), but Corea and Pattitucci are well within the realm of their old stomping grounds - in fact the latter is so consistently a virtuosso one starts to take it for granted and expect it during this show. As such it will likely be enjoyable to most fans of the band but, after hearing other live material from their first go-round on import albums and other performances, there doesn't seem to be much new development. It does offer good stylistic insight into one of the transition points for Corea between "Now He Sings Now He Sobs" and the New Trio (see Disc 8 below).
Disc 6: Chick Corea And Origin
A relatively contemporary part of the collection, this Spanish/Latin show features a three- horn sextet formed by Corea druing the late 1990s. Fans familiar with the group's live debut album or boxed set from that Blue Note session won't find much new here, but it remains a strong ensemble and there's little to criticize about their reunion. They play only four songs - two lively, two laid back - allowing for plenty of individual and group improvisations that allow personalities to emerge. The reflective "Armando's Tango" is a good showcase as it allows saxophonists Steve Wilson and Tim Garland and trombonist Steve Davis lots of space for verbiage, and bassist Avishai Cohen establishes himself as one of the show's highlights with bowing that is both harmonically and poetically intricate. Drummer Jeff Ballard's bare-hand technique is an idea compliment for Cohen, a combination they revisit as a trio with Corea on Disc 8. On