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Chick Corea @ Montreal Jazz Festival

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Armed with a piano and percussion set, the 2002 Miles Davis Award winner opened with a song for his father and then took the packed hall on a tribute trip through much of the rest of storied musical family. "Armando's Rhumba" began with tribal thunder on the toms, but quickly switched to a playfully vibe-y piano, eventually settling into a dual-mooded conversation between the black and white keys. Turning from the personal to the universal, Corea offered the syncopated cascades of Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me" and then expanded further into the embellished incremental refrains of Van Heusen¹s "It Could Happen To You" which, though harder to grasp, demonstrated Corea's insatiable desire to explore. Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" was as its title suggested, layering classically trained changes under wisps of a honky-tonk theme that came to the fore in the easy swing of "Blue Monk." Corea continued the Monk medley with a figuring of "Monk's Dream" that pitted his own complicated rhythms against simultaneous key signatures that, though still impressive, seemed simple in comparison. Despite the lack of intimacy in the grand and nearly fully-lit hall, Corea's performance often seemed like an instance of catching him at his own piano, lost in the joy of creation and exploration and attacking the keys as if the pieces had only recently been composed, yet with the control and ease of the old master he is.

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