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Chick Corea and Bela Fleck: Remembrance

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Chick Corea and Bela Fleck: Remembrance
As much as master banjoist Bela Fleck loves to play, he loves to perform with other like-minded musicians virtually as much. Consequently, in addition to his long-standing role as leader of The Flecktones ensemble, he has continued to explore his love of the bluegrass music by which he first made a name for himself, My Bluegrass Heart (Renew, 2021), but also ventured far afield to collaborate with equally adventuresome creative partners like Edgar Meyer and Zakir Hussain for As We Speak (Thirty Tigers, 2023).

Meanwhile, roughly a year after the latter title, Fleck produced Rhapsody In Blue (Thirty Tigers, 2024), where, in a pragmatic homage to author George Gershwin, he played solo, with two small ensembles and in the company of a symphony orchestra. In a logical extension of those projects, the current resident of Nashville has also overseen the collection of unreleased recordings with the late keyboardist/composer Chick Corea.

Following a studio album, The Enchantment (Concord, 2007) and documentation of the pair's touring together, Two (Stretch, 2015), Remembrance is the third and final release under the combined billing. Fourteen tracks running roughly sixty-five minutes fittingly span the stylistic gamut at the command of the two men, both of whom composed material herein.

On a majestic piece titled "The Otter Creek Incident," Corea and author Fleck present mirror images of their instrumental output on piano and banjo, respectively. Meanwhile, a live take of "Juno" (inspired by the latter New York City native's son) is juxtaposed with ambitious interpretations of Thelonious Monk ("Bemsha Swing") and Scarlatti ("Sonatas), not to mention challenging technical exercises like "Small Potatoes."

The individual persona of each man remains even amid the most involved interactions of "Lucky Bounce." On this title song, as with most of its surroundings, the output from banjo and acoustic piano complement each other in an almost supernatural fashion. Fleck and Corea's intuitive empathy may have been honed on the road, but it was a natural rapport they discovered in order to elevate it to such rarefied heights as on Corea's "Continuance."

Recordings overseen by long-time technical gurus of the twosome, Bernie Kirsh (Corea) and Richard Battaglia (Fleck, who did some engineering himself) were mastered by Paul Blakemore. His expertise ensured the preservation of nuances that appear documented here from spirit-of-the-moments within a handful of "Impromptu" cuts; therein the two principals rightfully trust their instincts in each other's company as much so as on "Enut Nital" ("Latin Tune'' spelled backwards).

Keynoted by the late jazz icon's original, Remembrance is at once a vivid recollection of, and testament to, a meeting of the minds almost as often playful as it is sophisticated. We may not see its likes again any time soon, but keeping in mind the deceptively self-deprecating liner notes by Bela Fleck here, it would behoove us to keep track of the writer and current resident of Nashville named after Bartok.

Track Listing

The Otter Creek Incident; impromptu III: march hare; Enut Nital; impromptu II: mock turtle; Bemsha Swing; Lucky Bounce; impromptu I: cheshire; Remembrance; Juno; Scarlatti Sonatas; impromptu V: jabberwocky; Small Potatoes; Continuance; impromptu IV: gentlemen fish.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Remembrance | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Thirty Tigers


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