Thursday, March 16, 2006

Chick Corea: The Ultimate Adventure

Concord Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.16.06
Buy CD: The Ultimate Adventure

Chick Corea is one of the jazz field's most widely experienced and prolific musicians and composers. It's difficult to name a jazz great he hasn't played with and been influenced by, or a style he hasn't visited. 

He was born in the early 1940s, at the beginning of the bop era, so his initial catalysts were Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and pianists Bud Powell and Horace Silver. 

Then Bill Evans arrived on the scene, and Corea's world expanded. He subsequently delivered exquisite free, jazz-rock, fusion, Latin, funk and classical recordings, and was one of the first to provide a distinctive, personalized sound with electric as well as acoustic instruments. 

Corea played free jazz with the Miles Davis groups, Latin jazz with Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo, then teamed up with Blue Mitchell and Stan Getz, and finally rejoined Miles, whom he left in the '70s, to form the first of his own groups. Corea changed direction many times during this period, beginning as an acoustic jazz-rock unit with an Afro-Latin bent, becoming a propulsive fusion band with a decided rock tilt, then transforming into a pop unit with a New Age feel. 

Since then, Corea has concentrated on his Elektric and Touchstone bands, the latter of which is featured on this Concord release. 

Corea has had a "lifelong connection with L. Ron Hubbard's works." Because one of Hubbard's stories had a southern Spain-northern Africa-Arabian background, Corea was prompted to compose the tunes included in this CD. 

"Three Ghouls" is a suite that begins with Bartok, moves through a groove section featuring flute and Fender Rhodes electric piano, and closes with a Latin-influenced jam with a hand-clap undercurrent. "Queen Tedmur" and "King & Queen" introduce a theme for the book's two romantic characters, then moves into the "Moseb the Executioner" suite. The "story" concludes with eight melodic lines, featuring the various members of the Touchstone group playing flute, bass, drums and Corea's Fender Rhodes piano. 

If the Hubbard story ever is made into a movie, they'll already have the perfect soundtrack.

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