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Chick Corea Akoustic Band: Live!

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Chick Corea Akoustic Band: Live!
A posthumous review of a live record sounds like an oxymoron. Particularly when it seems that Chick Corea was with us only yesterday. The sound of this record is lively, bright, and imbued with a richness of colors. The trio of Corea, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Dave Weckl can take your breath away in an instant. This addition to their rich library is played with as much enthusiasm as it is heart, and with as much passion as it is a sense of fun. The question becomes is it good or is it great? That is for the listener to decide. This is a two live CD set, with only one song, "Humpty Dumpty," emerging from both sets. The trio dug in and played long and creative versions of just about everything, with each set featuring over an hour of hearty improvisational jazz.

Corea kicks off lightly with Patitucci and Weckl soon to follow in a modern take on the Corea composition "Morning Sprite." The nine plus minutes take touched on almost every edge and every corner of what was to come. It was a taste of what was in store. Corea was always concerned about setting the mood and having everyone feeling comfortable. Now placed in a receptive environment, the trio dances into Corea's "Japanese Waltz." Fluid and evenly paced this waltz has Patitucci in duo, with Weckl on brushes, inside the larger hypnotic and interactive trio movement. The pace is lifted as they groove into "That Old Feeling" with a bounce in their step. Weckl concludes with high end artistry that wasn't rushed despite the fiery bebop lines of Patitucci leading him in. Corea's note selection creatively had a Freddie Hubbardesque horn cadence to it. Like most musicians, he did a lot of transcribing. We can wonder if the progressions were knowingly horn centric or if they had just become a part of him.

Just at a moment when the trio could have raised the temperature a bit more, Corea slyly went the other direction with Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood." The familiar romantic theme is reset with warm lines and soft colors by Corea in solo. He gravitated ever so slightly back to the melody as his mates climbed on board. Their collective note selections and exchanges seem to make the tune melt around you. In no rush, the luscious serenade wrapped just under the ten minute mark. That pales in comparison to the over fourteen minutes of Corea's Latin laced "Rhumba Flamenco." Starting out close to the vest, the song bursted exponentially moments in with a Weckl pop that was pounced on by Corea and Patitucci. The beauty of improvised music. It could just as easily been Corea or Patitucci that led the direction, or the direction could have been different. No matter, they chase after each other with equal skill, passion, and fun. Three masters in their domain racing into a cloud of thunder. A jaw-dropped audience erupted at the conclusion of the driving selection that included an exquisite drum take from Weckl, Patitucci's powerful and tenacious grooves, and eight thousand (slight exaggeration) directional changes by Corea. This piece had show closer written all over it. But not on this night. Not with two more pieces on the playlist. Or was there a playlist? Maybe they were just calling out tunes. Either way, "Summer Night" was up next. The warm sensation of one of those summer nights that you wish would never end was encapsulated in a thirteen minutes plus treatment that has Patitucci finely fingering gently into a warm abyss. Corea embraced it moving with gradual advance into a seamless full swing trio. Corea's flurry of note selections were vivid and energizing, with Weckl and Patitucci playing in kind. "Summer Night" was the delicate balance of upper shelf performance and having a blast doing it. "Humpty Dumpty" made an appearance, with Patitucci and Weckl quickly out the gate in driving swing. The Corea classic found the master jetting on his keyboards with high speed changes on the fly, in a vast array of directions. The show closed with Patitucci really feeling and pushing the groove and Weckl furiously zinging around his kit in unison. Corea reengaged the melody again and again, buzzing mercurial lines of expression in between—until it was time for Humpty to fall and call it a night.

Set two, also known as disc two, finds the trio in immediate full swing and groove. Their improvisational graces filling every lane "On Green Dolphin Street." The oft traveled road has been driven at many speeds by a litany of jazz greats over the years. Miles Davis, along with Bill Evans, and John Coltrane recorded what is often referred to as the definitive version in the late 1950's. Spirits were high right out the starting gate, this second night playing live at SPC Music Hall in St. Petersburg, Florida in 2018. Patitucci smoldering, with Weckl in hot pursuit, paved the way for Corea's customarily relentless pursuit of innovation. Polishing every corner at every seamlessly navigated turn, Corea shined brightly, leaving no doubt he was plugged in this night. With Patitucci's solo a taut extension of where he had been throughout the tune and Weckl's remarkable ability to play with robust energy while maintaining a balance in not overpowering his bandmates, this was an opening number of note. This was followed by Patitucci taking his bow to his strings. What emanated was a dark yet elegant pathway delving into Corea's "Eternal Child." The mood was dramatically set for Corea to solo from ground zero. In no rush, he exposes his deep emotional pallet with heart and sincerity. Patitucci and Weckl quietly emerge in support and the trio gently brings the poignant ballad to a close. The feel of a ballad continues with "You and The Night and The Music." That mood shifts quickly, however, when a more rapid tempo emerges. Corea pounces like white on rice and locks into a fourteen minutes plus riveting piece that thrusts open the floodgates of Corea's fertile imagination. The tune is also a showpiece for Weckl's explosive and fiery drumming. While he again demonstrates his command of power and finesse, it's the recipe that makes it cook. Weckl's bold and recognizable signature sound is defined by his dynamic blend of components forged inside the temperament of a refined artist.

A Thelonious Monk composition seemed inevitable. After all, the telepathic connection between Corea and Monk has long been discussed. "Monk's Mood" was instantly recognizable, with Corea well acquainted with the curiously melodic muse of Monk. His frameless approach seemed to invite the playful and quirky measures of Monk. Not surprisingly, Corea's soloing was at part an immersion into dissonance, while also an integration of their styles. It is easy to become so fixated that you hardly notice Patitucci and Weckl sliding in. Patitucci adds his own spice and quirk to the mix, elevating the epic piece even further. "Humpty Dumpty" is back in the house, and this time sticks around a bit longer. Part of the extension is at the front end, with Corea deftly soloing into a potent wonderland. Now into his own world, free of any boundaries, he spins a fantastical journey before Humpty even began to swing. Even more playful than before, Corea was having about as much as fun as possible, playfully engaging Patitucci and Weckl into interplay that was equally inventive, fun, rhythmic, and energetic. A highly intelligent conversation from the masterful trio. On this night "Humpty Dumpty" did not close out the show. Instead Corea invited his wife and singer Gayle Moran Corea on to the stage, as he had done so many times over the years. She took on the challenge of a very demanding ballad. Corea's composition "You're Everything" covers a lot of range— even more when Corea is being playful with it. Half way through the first verse, she laughed and said "My those notes are hard to sing." After an instrumental run, she blistered the second verse with some astonishing high notes. The crowd erupted. Initially for Mrs. Corea's efforts, but then loud and genuine in appreciation of the evening's sensational serenade.

Three elite musicians reuniting with the sole purpose of having fun. A celebration of life with longtime friends. The kind of evenings that could be magical...RIP Chick Corea.

Track Listing

Disc 1: Morning Sprite; Japanese Waltz; That Old Feeling; In a Sentimental Mood; Rhumba Flamenco; Summer Night; Humpty Dumpty. Disc 2: On Green Dolphin Street; Eternal Child; You and the Night and the Music; Monk’s Mood; Humpty Dumpty (Set 2); You’re Everything (featuring Gayle Moran Corea).

Personnel

Chick Corea: piano; John Patitucci: bass, acoustic; Dave Weckl: drums; Gayle Moran Corea: voice / vocals.

Album information

Title: Live! | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Concord Music Group

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