Originally published at rec.music.bluenote
Was surprised to see a new CD of Chick Corea at my local store – I knew that it was coming, but didn’t know when. Anyway, it’s very nice. Only two selections – a revised arrangement of “Spain” with his entire Origin band alongside the London Philharmonic and then the premiere recording of Chick’s Piano Concerto (which I first heard back in early 1986 and have been clamoring to get released since then).
The tri-partite version of “Spain” is great – I wasn’t a fan of the trio version Chick recorded maybe 10 years ago, but this one keeps enough of the original during the solos and the orchestral parts are a wonderful elaboration. In tempo, rubato, solo piano, trio, just Origin, just orchestra – all the possibilities are explored. Solos from the band too – although Bob Sheppard on flute just makes me miss Steve Kujala (or Joe Farrell, for that matter). Chick is playing great and I am very impressed with how he has (again!) managed to come back from the depths of the dreck he was involved in (with Frank Gambale, Eric Marienthal, Weckl, and Pattitucci) to produce this album and his other recent Origin material. I will have to get some more of their stuff.
The Concerto is a slightly different version that what I heard in NYC. Drums and bass are added – I remember the orchestral percussionist coming up front to play mallets in the third movement. Chick has now given the majority of the percussion parts to the kit drummer and I am not certain that I’m happier with this latest change. It does work at times. Would have been nice to have Gary Burton in there (he did some recent gigs with Origin).
I wish that Chick and John McLaughlin would do a set of orchestra concerts – let Chick do his Mozart concerto, John do the Rodrigo, and then hear original orchestral works (supposedly John has written a second concerto after “The Mediterranean”) by the two. It’s a shame that a lot of newer orchestral material get passed over in favor of (yet another) performance of the old warhorses. I mean, absolutely nothing wrong with them, but again? You want to get a fresh audience into the concert halls to hear your symphony orchestra? This would be a way.
I’ve been fortunate to see Ornette’s “Skies of America”, Brubeck’s oratorio, Jim Hall’s works for strings, and this Corea work live. More, please! There are quality works out there that merit performances – Jarrett, Muhal, Giuffre, Amram, even Wayne Shorter was rumored to have written an orchestral work. And what happened to that piece written for Stan Getz? When I was studying with Kenny Barron he told me about playing it up in Boston, I think. They didn’t have a piano part and Kenny had read off the score. The clarinet concerto that Gary Schneider wrote for Perry Robinson is amazing, but it’s never been professionally recorded and has only been performed a handful of times.
I think we need something either linked with a major concert hall/organization (Lincoln Center, etc.) or a new entity to present these kinds of things. Kenton had a great idea with the L.A. Neophonic – but that was back in the 1960s! Here we are and no one has really followed up on that.
What would also be useful would be to get these scores made available to the public – perhaps Kent Bray can let us know what is possible – rental? put in the American Music Center library? something! Otherwise there is no way for this music to be disseminated. There might not be “hip” enough conductors among the professional symphony orchestras (or the desire among the decision makers), but I think that a good university orchestra could handle this sort of thing.
Even moreso than McLaughlin’s, Corea’s work blurs the line between jazz and classical music, which is an area of great interest to me. I am so very glad that Chick didn’t let it disappear.
Oh, btw, the album is called “corea.concerto” which I assume is a reference to our wonderful world of the Internet. A little trite, if you ask me. But if you like Corea and the middle ground between jazz and classical, you’ll let that pass and grab this album.