The original Crystal Silence (recorded in 1972) wasand still isone of the strongest early releases on the then relatively new ECM Records. Pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton have been working as a dynamic duo for over 35 years now, releasing many CDs in duo form and with various ensembles.
The playing on the original Crystal Silence is almost telepathic and the scope of the compositional direction wide, enough to produce a riveting album never hampered by the 'limited' orchestration of just piano and vibraphone. The New Crystal Silence seeks not merely to revisit the past, but expand on this enduring musical relationship. The most obvious manifestation of the transformed Crystal Silence is that one of the two CDs of this set is with the Sydney Symphony, performing Tim Garland's arrangements of Corea compositions.
The integration of the duo and the symphony orchestration is astonishing and while at times the orchestra has an almost John Williams soundtrack sound to itthe theme of "Crystal Silence" being played on the bassoon with hits on a woodblock honestly sounds a little sillypraise is due to Garland for never hindering or burying Corea or Burton's playing. The most successful synergy of symphony and the duo is "La Fiesta," a standard in the Burton/Corea repertoire. The melody of vibraphone dances and darts through trumpet chords, timpani punches and soaring strings to join the piano on the other side of the tempest for a perfect meeting of musical synchronization.
However, as Corea states in his section of the liners, "Our main show is the duet performance...," the raison d'etre of Crystal Silence. Disc 2 presents a concert recording from the Molde festival in July 2007 and contains some of the compositions you would expect of this duo: "Bud Powell," "No Mystery," "Señor Mouse," and "La Fiesta." A little surprising is Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby" which receives a wonderful performance; Burton extrapolating the melody in fast time and Corea floating and flying melodically over the keyboard, dropping accents that blur the triple meter. Even more surprising are the standards "Sweet and Lovely" and "I Loves You Porgy" for which the duo gives pleasant renditions.
What is a bit strange about The New Crystal Silence is the absence of any Steve Swallow tunes. His songs grace almost all of Burton's early and mid-period albums and indeed the original Crystal Silence presented three. Regardless, whenever this duo plays, one can be sure sparks will fly with virtuosity.
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