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Chick Corea and Origin: A Week at the Blue Note

Douglas Payne By

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Like his former boss, Miles Davis, pianist Chick Corea isn't comfortable in one place for too long. Nor, thankfully, does he seem to want to retread his own past. After a lengthy run of his Elektric/Akoustic band (1986-1993), a solo record, several all-star projects and a reunion with Gary Burton (1997's Native Sense ), Corea returns to the group concept with Origin, an interesting acoustic sextet fronted by two reed players (Bob Sheppard, Steve Wilson) and Steve Davis's trombone.

A Week At The Blue Note is a voluminous six-disc set that captures every minute this surprisingly tight unit blew at the famed New York nightspot during the first week of 1998. The first full disc has already been released as the single-disc, Origin. But the group really starts to catch fire at the start of the set's second disc. It is here where the listener really notices the group's effervescent cohesion and, in particular, Corea's strength as a memorable improviser.

The compositions seem structured as sketchpads, and not as memorable as the colorful and arty splashes of improvisation which enhance them. Most memorable, though, are each set's variations of "Hand Me Down," "Tempus Fugit," "Soul Mate" and "Sifu."

While there are generous portions of Corea's accomplished and commanding improvisational style here, there's probably a bit too much to really enjoy. And while Origin has a genuinely appealing and fascinating performance chemistry, the material is not strong enough to sustain six hours worth of interest.

Still, Chick Corea hasn't sounded this strong and worthy on record since 1989's Akoustic Band. In fact, he sounds better. Origin could lead to some exciting places for Corea to explore.

Players:Chick Corea: piano; Avishai Cohen: acoustic bass; Adam Cruz: drums; Steve Davis: trombone; Bob Sheppard: flute, soprano sax, tenor sax and bass clarinet; Steve Wilson - flute, soprano sax, alto sax and clarinet.

Songs:Say It Again (Part 1); Say It Again (Part 2); Double Image; Bewitched; Bird Feathers; Say It Again; Tempus Fugit; Hand Me Down; Soul Mates; Matrix; It Could Happen To You; Dreamless; Bewitched; Bird Feathers; Say It Again (Part 1); Say It Again (Part 2); Tempus Fugit; Hand Me Down; Molecules; Sifu; Matrix; Say It Again (Part 1); Say It Again (Part 2); Double Image; Blue Monk; Sifu; Molecules; Straight No Chaser; Say It Again (Part 1); Say It Again (Part 2); Bewitched; Hand Me Down; Four In One; Matrix; Double Image.

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