Chick Corea: Rendezvous In New York
This piano collage is a listener's gem as Corea and Rubalcaba exchange nimble-note exclamations and musings full of wit, intelligence and Latin spirit. The liner notes start by noting each player's background as a working percussionist and those quick-hit influences are on full display as they battle each other - tastefully, without bombast - on the opening "Toccata (Improv 7)." They immediately take it down to the opposite, but no less accomplished, scale with a developing exchange of ballad phrases on the appropriately named "Melodic Conversation." The showman flourishes are here, such as Corea opening "Caravan" with dramatic conducting flourishes and playing mallets on his piano body as Rubalcaba's attacks the keys more traditionally. But even popular fare gets detailed treatment, closing "Concierto De Aranjuez/Spain" with delicacy and subtlety, letting the usually steamy composition wind down to a fade out, making the final moment one of silence rather than shouting.
Disc 8: Chick Corea New Trio
As Corea's only current group appearing at the Rendezvous this straight-ahead session offers a more complex and less-in-you-face brand of contemporary mainstream than the Akoustic Band. That said, the six compositions are all credited to Corea's father, Armando, leader of his own dixieland band as far back as the 1930s. The New Trio, a subset of the Origin band, has the same Spanish/Latin shadings of the full group in a somewhat more subdued package. Bassist Avishai Cohen benefits from the additional time as he can gallop on "Nostalgia" and expand on his interchanges with drummer Jeff Ballard. Ballard doesn't have Weckl's distinctiveness or Haynes' stature, but passages like his long and understated rolling solo on "Revolving Door" are worth focusing on. It's not flawless; the opening "La Fiesta" is nothing special and in general this isn't anything stretching modern boundaries. But it holds its own against the two other trio DVDs in this, each of which is likely to be favored by different listeners based on the traits of the supporting cast.
Disc 9: Three Quartets Band
The lineup alone - saxophonist Michael Brecker, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Steve Gadd - speaks volumes about the era and style of the four Corea-penned "Quartet" compositions performed here. The mostly up-tempo selections stretch from post-bop to high-concept fusion and, if not cutting edge, offer meat-and-potatoes substance from one of the pianist's more underrated groups. Brecker's piercing and relatively intense soloing and Gomez's more laid back pluckings are great studies in contrasting approches that both work in the same composition. Gadd shines nicely in a variety of complex support textures, although he doesn't get the prominence or hit the highs Haynes achieves at his best. Corea is solid if not necessarily special, it's his compositions and frequent deference of center stage to others that do much to elevate this show. An average to above-average part of the collection, likely to stand up to repeat listens more than some catchier but less hefty material.
Disc 10: Bonus Disc - Rendezvous In New York - The Movie
OK as a "bonus" disc, but could be much better and isn't likely to offer much to those who've already watched the others in the collection. The narration by actor Jeff Goldblum about Corea's career and the reunion session is rather fawning and empty, and many of the comments by the musicians comments are equally shallow ("Chick's a master"). Corea's comments about each band are mostly the same ones from their respective discs and the songs, like a typical greatest hits compilation, are more an overview of the players' talents than a chance to appreciate them fully. Still, there's some redeeming moments such an explanation of how Corea and Burton use similar striking approaches in their duets, followed by a performance where the camera work allows a chance to see the concept at work. Other nuggets likely to offer insight to listeners at various levels are frequent enough to avoid boredom, but more detailed interviews, performances from the groups' previous encounters, rehearsal and other behind-the-scenes moments are among the things that might make this better than one-and-done filler.