315

Chick Corea Elektric Band: To The Stars

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Here's a question. How could an artist with as much talent as Chick Corea—for the pretty and the trippy ( In A Silent Way ) and the flaming and the visceral ( Miles Davis Live At The Fillmore East 1970 ) and, some thirty years later, for the sophisticated and the swinging ( Origin: Live At The Blue Note ), with many a sublime moment in between—how could such an artist put his name to an album as shallow, mechanistic and pretentious as To The Stars ?

Things get off to an unpromising start when you learn that this, the Elektric Band's first album in about ten years, is Corea's musical dramatisation of one of L. Ron Hubbard's philosobabble sci-fi novels, complete with simulated rocket blast-offs.

Of course, you should be able to separate the music from the concept—even if Corea doesn't intend you to—but somehow it's hard to get the taste of snake oil out of your mouth....

There are grandstanding perma-climax solos and occasional sickening lurches in the direction of Planet Kenny G, the programming and fx budget is so massively pervasive that it's more like a hostile virus, there's an almost complete lack of group interplay in real time, and divine Latin rhythms like the mambo and the samba are reduced to a stolid generic gunk with all the danceability of set concrete. It is to jazz what Cliff Richard's Christmas singles are to the Mighty Clouds Of Joy.

That is not to say To The Stars doesn't have a few good moments. The "Port View" miniatures featuring Corea and Gambale effectively evoke the slo-mo beauty of observing the planets from the porthole of a spacecraft. And the technical chops of Corea, Gambale, Patitucci and Weckl are of course impressive, if only in a rock-god kind of way. But that's about it.

At the end, as well as irritation at the vapid portentousness of it all, and regret at the time you've wasted listening to it, you're left with the original question, unanswered. How could Corea do it?


Track Listing: Check Blast; Port View 1; Mistress Luck - A Portrait; Mistress Luck - The Party; Port View 2; Johnny's Landing; Port View 3; Alan Corday; Port View 4; Hound Of Heaven; Port View 5; The Long Passage; Port View 6; Jocelyn - The Commander; Port View 7; Captain Jocelyn - Tribute By His Crew; Captain Jocelyn - The Pianist

Personnel: Chick Corea, keyboards; Frank Gambale, guitar; Eric Marienthal, saxophones; John Patitucci, bass; Dave Weckl, drums

Title: To The Stars | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Stretch Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Two in a Box CD/LP/Track Review Two in a Box
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Discussions CD/LP/Track Review Discussions
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Chamber Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review Chamber Jazz
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Far from Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far from Over
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "Kansas City Here I Come" CD/LP/Track Review Kansas City Here I Come
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by John Sharpe
Published: January 25, 2017
Read "The Many Minds of Richie Cole" CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "The Best of Bossacucanova" CD/LP/Track Review The Best of Bossacucanova
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 6, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.