The Chick Corea
composition "Mirror Mirror" made its debut on a record led by Joe Henderson
. Compelled by the tune's conversational and interactive elements, the astute tenor saxophonist made it the title track. Mirror Mirror
(MPS, 1980) featured the rhythm section of Ron Carter
and Billy Higgins
. Henderson's quartet was, not surprisingly, rounded out by Corea. Gleaned from Snow White
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" Corea's vision is indeed of beauty. Beautiful melodic sensibilities mirrored in response.
Fast forward to the present and we find pianist, composer, and vocalist Eliane Elias
in duet(s) with Corea and Chucho Valdes
. This time Mirror Mirror
is an all new presentation of seven piano duets, four with Corea and three with Valdes. Having both been raised listening to and playing Latin music, and with their concurrent exposure to classical music, Elias and Corea long ago spoke of working together. They finally recorded four duets in 2018. Pausing because of busy schedules, the project was never finished. After Corea's sad and sudden passing in early 2021, and after dealing with the shock and sadness, Elias wisely asked Valdes to duet and complete the record. The shared Latin heritage of Elias and Corea remained intact with the inclusion of Valdes the Cuban legend.
Although she has added her very natural and sultry voice to her records for many years now, Elias made her mark on the jazz scene as a pianist. This record marks a sensational return to instrumentals. Whether playing with Steps Ahead
, Peter Erskine
, former husband Randy Brecker
, Michael Brecker
, Herbie Hancock
, or on her own records, Elias has had great success as an instrumental artist. Multi-talented, she in turn has had a string of highly successful records as a vocalist-pianist.
Here, she opens with Corea in his classic "Armando's Rhumba." Their shared melodic tendencies with classical elements mesmerize and entertain simultaneously. There is an air of elegance in this piece. Elias's Bach is answered by Corea's Chopin. Her Ravel seems to ask Corea if Scarlatti can come out and play. Sequenced alternately, the next track is with Valdes. They enter softly, never in a rush with "Esta Tarde vi Lover" (This Afternoon I Saw It Rain). They speak in vivid romantic colors. Valdes is superbly concise and leads Elias into a brilliant light of expressionism. Seeing that Elias and Corea team up for Kenny Dorham
's "Blue Bossa" is enough to get hopes up high for something special. A rhythmically taut bossa nova or something a bit more complex? If you picked door number two you won the chicken dinner. Swing, classical, jazz, bossa, and perhaps more in the duet blender. It poured out in all different directions, seemingly with ease on the many changes. Valdes then returned with a broken heart. "Corazon Partio" deeply expressed the melancholy, the sadness, and the damage done. They moved together through peaks and valleys in a serenade of loss. At eleven minutes plus, this is by far the longest track on the record. Seemingly a testament to neither artist wanting the moment of shared grief and collective musical expertise to come to an end.
Placed fifth, the title track is indeed the centerpiece. Another challenge, as the original on the Henderson record is a sweet piece. Elias and Corea approach it from an entirely different aspect. A piano duet, of course, lends itself to direct call-and-response mirroring. But it is more than that, the pacing, the feel, the mood, all in a different light. Their note selections were creative, far from obvious. Her final selection with Valdes is the classic bolero "Sabor A Mi." They performed it with such life and presence, at times soulful, other times just flying on the keys. In all, a lovely conversation between Elias and Valdes. They savored the sunny side of love while sharing their unique vocabularies. How fitting that the record closes with "There Will Never Be Another You." Corea, here in step with Elias, leads in with his own glorious and purposeful prose before Elias takes a turn at the wheel, deftly steering her own meaningful solo. Memorable Corea and delicious Elias take on this classic tune. They close beautifully in unison and clearly had a grand time doing it.
Elias, Corea ,and Valdes were impeccable and, while stretching within their boundaries, always in control. There are no mad runaway freight trains aboard this line. Instead it is a clinic on counterpoint and phrasing. In their own ways, Corea and Valdes fueled Elias further into her own distinguished orbit. Together they drew bold pictures, tethered merely by lace and grace. Still, it was this beautiful, sexy, Brazilian-born woman that once again looked deeply into the mirror. Elias saw and shared the reflection of the incredible Latin jazz pianist within.
Armando's Rhumba; Esta Tarde Vi Llover; Blue Bossa; Corazon Partio; Mirror Mirror; Sabor A Mi; There Will Never Be