For Crystal Silence, the first of several partnerships between Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton in the 1970s, the two musicians selected an interesting array of material. The compositions on this record are all modern ones, either by Steve Swallow, Mike Gibbs, or Corea himself. It is a mostly down-tempo affair, which allows each player to stretch out and play highly melodic solos over the often difficult changes. In keeping with most ECM releases, there is a distinct presence of European elements to the improvisations. There are few overt blues or bebop phrases, Corea and Burton opting instead for modern melodies to fuel their improvisations. Burton has managed to internalize the Spanish and modal implications of Corea's tunes with little difficulty, and solos with joyful ease through such tracks as "Seсor Mouse."
To the surprise of some, the Elektric/Akoustic association between Chick Corea, John Patitucci, and Dave Weckl now matched Return to Forever in longevity and productivity (five years, six albums). And the live (though no venue is given) Alive shows the giant steps made by Patitucci and, more so, Weckl during that time. In fact, at this juncture in their relationship, the bassist and drummer show distinctive musical identities that rival the bandleader himself. It makes for a sometimes uneasy musical alliance on these arrangements, solved in part by giving each player plenty of solos.
The Complete "Is" Sessions were recorded during Chick Corea's tenure with Miles Davis, along with bassist Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. Recorded over three days in New York, the final product came out as two albums on different labels "Is," "This," "Jamala," and "I," were issued as Is on Solid State, and the remaining cuts came out as Sundance on Groove Merchant "The Brain," "Song of the Wind," "Converge," and the title cut. Blue Note has assembled not only the two released recordings on this double-CD package, but the alternate takes as well, to offer a complex, very remarkable portrait of the chemistry that occurred when that trio engaged Woody Shaw, Bennie Maupin, Hubert Laws, and additional drummer Horace Arnold.
The fifth and final recording by the original version of Chick Corea's Elektric Band is not quite up to the level of the past few sets due to some forgettable compositions. The keyboardist/leader, guitarist Frank Gambale, and saxophonist Eric Marienthal create some fine solos and the ensembles (with bassist John Patitucci and drummer Dave Weckl) are tight, making this a worthwhile but not essential release from the top fusion group.
This very attractive five-CD set does an excellent job of summing up the rather productive career of pianist-keyboardist Chick Corea. The first two discs have highlights from the 1964-1982 period including a few sideman appearances, a previously unissued version of "Windows" played with Stan Getz, the original version of "Spain," four pieces from the Return to Forever days, and numbers from his freelance projects of the late '70s (highlighted by the exciting "Central Park"). The third disc concentrates on Corea's GRP projects (1986-1994), particularly his Elektric and Akoustic Bands (two selections were previously unissued), while the fourth CD is quite a grab-bag that includes collaborations with Herbie Hancock (a version of "Liza" that progresses from stride to free), Gayle Moran, John McLaughlin, Paco DeLucia, Gary Burton, Bobby McFerrin, and Miles Davis (a new duet version of "I Fall in Love So Easily" from 1969).
Each volume of this unique jazz improvisation method includes: State of the art recordings (multi-track digital), recorded in the excellent Bauer Studios, where many of the productions for the record label ECM have been done, and in the Skyline Studios in New York City. Each set contains six complete performances, including opening and closing theme statements, improvised solos and six play-along tracks which feature the rhythm section without soloist. Many performances use the original arrangements from classic jazz recordings (So What, Equinox, A Night In Tunisia, ’Round Midnight, Con Alma, Webb City, Joshua etc.).
Bill Dobbins - piano, Ron McClure - bass, Billy Hart - drums, Randy Brecker - trumpet and flügelhorn, Joe Lovano - tenor saxophone