Chick Corea Trio ‘Trilogy’ 3CD set (Concord/Universal) 4/5

chick-corea-trioPianist Chick Corea has enjoyed several varied and contrasting chapters in his illustrious career and the acoustic piano trio side is just one of his numerous musical identities. This wonderful extended overview of a world tour allows us to take in the sheer breadth of his repertoire with some old favourites from his own compositions and a judicious selection of standards. He now has a trusted rhythm section of bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brain Blade and when the empathy between them is so natural, the results are always likely to be of a high quality and this recording does not disappoint and the sound quality is universally excellent with a cohesive feel wherever the trio are performing on the globe. Corea’s love affair with Latin music in its myriad forms is hardly a secret and here he interprets some of the very best of his and others compositions. First off is a stunning rendition of Joe Henderson’s classic ‘Recorda-me’ and Chick is clearly in his element here with some inventive bass from McBride and ever sensitive accompaniment from Blade. From the Spanish end of the tour comes a collaboration on the anthemic ‘Spain’, with two major musicians from the Iberian peninsular, former Paco de Lucia alumni and leader in his own right, flautist Jorge Pardo, and flamenco guitarist Niño Josele. After a gentle and intricate intro on guitar, Pardo suddenly enters and thereafter an all out assault on the number ensues during which, after a tentative accompaniment, Pardo musically speaking takes centre stage and is in full flow to the obvious delight of the live audience and home listener alike. This is unquestionably an album highlight. Latin vamps on piano are a feature of another much-loved piece, ‘Armando’s Rhumba’, which is played as a trio number and with Blade excelling on some creative percussion accompaniment. In direct contrast, the reposing ‘Someday my prince will come’ has been covered by both Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck and the vocal version here (at least in the first part) delivered by Chick’s wife, vocalist Gayle Moran Corea. Another delicate ballad, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, receives an appropriately sensitive interpretation. Thelonius Monk is one of Corea’s all time piano heroes and in the past he has paid homage to him with a wonderful double LP trio recording for ECM. On this occasion two Monk pieces are covered and Chick puts his own twist on ‘Blue Monk’ with a more classical jazz reading with just a hint of the unique Monk phrasing. Another tribute of sorts occurs on ‘My foolish heart’ which was a number that Bill Evans loved to perform and guitarist Josele returns for some delicate work that recalls in part the lovely John McLaughlin all acoustic guitar homage to Evans. Piano and guitar work in unison here with the flamenco element adding something new to proceedings. Rounding off a memorable live set is a twenty-minute version of Russian classical composer Scriabin’s piano sonata entitled ‘The Moon’. It is often forgotten the extent to which jazz musicians, pianists especially, have been influenced by the classical domain. All in all an excellent way to sample one of jazz music’s most foremost exponents and in the most relaxing of settings.

Tim Stenhouse