Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chick Corea and Gary Burton: Hot House

Concord Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Hot House

Pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton are as well known as any artists in the music world. Born within two years of each other, each initially worked in straight-ahead and bop-related groups, then developed styles that were offshoots of the bop era. Corea worked with Miles Davis, Burton with George Shearing; then both formed a series of groups and toured extensively with top-level sidemen. Corea and Burton met during this period, and have worked together for almost 40 years.

Both are multiple Grammy Award nominees and winners, five of which were received for their collaborations. Hot House is their newest release. 

Although both are composers (Corea the most prolific), all but one track were written by others. The album opens with “Can’t We Be Friends,” a Kay Swift/Paul Swift tune; other highlights include Lennon & McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby,”  Bill Evans’ “Time Remembered” and Dave Brubeck’s “Strange Meadow Lark.” The disc closes with Corea’s “Mozart Goes Dancing.” It’s of interest that all but one of these tunes was written by a pianist.

Neither Burton nor Corea is a “frenetic” artist; each always is in complete control of his instruments at every tempo. As a result, everything produced here is thoughtful, gentle and beautiful. Only two of these tracks are done up-tempo: the title tune and Corea’s original. The rest are treated as ballads, and presented softly and poetically. 

Everything is done as a duet, except for “Mozart Goes Dancing”; the Harlem String Quartet guests on that track, which results in a true classical feel and sound. Corea uses a standard piano throughout the album. 

Corea and Burton obviously respect and enjoy each other; just listen to the beautiful music they make!

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