Recorded live at the Blue Note, Chick Corea's new working unit, Origin, plays straight-ahead acoustic modern mainstream jazz. The band includes trombonist Steve Davis, saxophonists Bob Sheppard and Steve Wilson, acoustic bassist Avishai Cohen, and drummer Adam Cruz. All tracks except "It Could Happen To You" are Corea's compositions. Since it's a live session and since most tracks exceed ten minutes, there's plenty of time for each artist to stretch out.
Each member of Origin has ample prior experience; they work together quite well, supporting each other through heated solos and ensemble interplay. Davis worked with Art Blakey, Cruz has experience with Eddie Palmieri and Tom Harrell, Sheppard with Billy Childs and Mark Isham, Wilson with Joe Henderson and Don Byron; 27-year-old Cohen backed Nnenna Freelon on her latest album.
These examples, of course, are mere benchmarks of their careers; each has a broad background with experience as a leader. Through Chick Corea's earlier ensembles Return To Forever, Elektric Band, Akoustic Trio, and quite a few others he's never lost sight of the essential elements that drive jazz: swing, improvisation, virtuosity, and teamwork. All of those elements exist in Origin.
Working as a horn line, Sheppard employs bass clarinet, Wilson the soprano saxophone, and Davis his trombone as they form a wall behind Corea's light and dreamy acoustic piano on "Dreamless." The album was produced during a weeklong engagement at the New York club, but the excellent microphone arrangement remained constant throughout. Wilson and Corea are heard on the left; Sheppard and Davis are on the right. Bass and drums sit near the center of the ensemble's sound. For "Soul Mates" Wilson and Sheppard provide a smooth blend from two flutes. Both take the solo spotlight; Sheppard's flute is more fluid, while Wilson's bouncier approach contains more space.
"Double Image" and "It Could Happen to You" follow the standard format which finds solo work from everyone. The latter also includes melodic piano trio material and drum-piano fours. The dreamier "Molecules" offers more of Corea's piano sound. Working with Sheppard's bass clarinet, Davis' trombone, and Wilson's alto sax, the pianist cascades with a light touch. His constant motion and fluid keyboard articulation are icing on the cake. Highly Recommended.