Chick Corea was involved in a wide variety of projects during the early 1980s, some acoustic, others electric, and everything from solos and duets to orchestral projects. Touchstone really displays quite a bit of diversity with features for flamenco guitarist Paco DeLucia, a one-song ("Compadres") reunion of Return to Forever (with guitarist Al DiMeola, bassist Stanley Clarke, and drummer Lenny White), a spot for alto-great Lee Konitz ("Duende"), and a conventional sextet outing on "Dance of Chance." A bit uneven but with its interesting moments, Touchstone is worth checking out.
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.