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Chick Corea: Solo Piano Standards/Originals

Mark Corroto By

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Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, and Chick Corea’s piano careers will be forever intertwined. Born within five years of each other, each apprenticed with Miles Davis, and interestingly enough each took to the electric keyboards under Miles. The Miles Davis influence pushed each into experimentation, innovation, and to my mind redemption at the keyboards. Jarrett’s experimental Impulse! Years gave way to his Standards Trio and a neo-classicism. Hancock has played with dance rhythms and funk, giving us the pre-hip hop “Rockit.” Corea has moved in and out of acoustic and electric music featuring his Elektric and Akoustic bands. Like Hancock’s Gershwin’s World and Jarrett’s The Melody At Night With You, Corea has come back to a jazz concept popular before his electric Miles experience. His latest band Origin, a sextet, features a creative group sound instead of the head-solo-head model. Keeping a working band has allowed for Corea to make more a developing jazz statement, than say just inviting session musicians to record an album. The three Miles alumni, all have come back to standard material, their own and those of the great composers of the twentieth century.

These two solo piano discs, recorded during a Japanese and European concert tour, consist of Corea’s original music (plus 2 preludes by Alexander Scriabin) in Part One and Part Two covers jazz standards. Corea has produced solo recordings before, the most recent being the 1993 Expressions preceded by earlier ECM dates. Like Jarrett and Hancock, Chick Corea is a romantic. His career from Mongo Santamaria to Blue Mitchell, Stan Getz, and his duets with either Herbie Hancock or Gary Burton showcases an idyllic lyricism.

His Originals many which are (“Spain” and “Children’s Songs”) or will one day become jazz standards (“Armando’s Rhumba”). Corea has always walked a line between jazz and classical in his original music. His brief improvisation upon Alexander Scriabin’s “Preludes” flow seamlessly from the original music. These live tracks showcase an artist supremely confident and patient in his approach. His four improvisation pieces culled from audience suggestions arguably should have comprised an entire CD of their own. Besides being an accomplished composer, Corea’s instantaneous creativity is admirable.

The Standards disc covers the anticipated material. Half of the songs are covers of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell. Corea has been beholden to these geniuses of bebop since he began his career recording the stellar Trio Music with Roy Haynes and Miroslav Vitous (ECM 1981) and Remebering Bud Powell (Stretch 1996). The remainders are by Irving Berlin, Jimmy Van Heusen, Cole Porter, and Jerome Kern. If his take on classical music is a jazz improvisation, his renditions of jazz standards are almost classical. Like Jarrett’s The Melody At Night, With You, Corea’s straight approach to these gems is refreshingly reverent, a tribute to the greatest music of the 20th century. If Jazz is America’s classical music, Corea has placed it reverently upon his altar.

Track List:Brasilia; Yellow Nimbus; Prelude #$, Opus 11; Prelude #2, Opus 11; Children’s Song; #6; Children’s Song #10; Armando’s Rhumba; April Snow; The Chase; The Falcon; Swedish Landscape; Spain; Children’s Song #12.


Personnel: Chick Corea

Title: Solo Piano Standards/Originals | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


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