Chick Corea/Hiromi ‘Duet’ (Concord) 4/5

In 1978 Chick Corea undertook a concert tour with Herbie Hancock the result of which was the acclaimed piano duet evening. Thirty years on Corea repeats the formula, this time with upcoming Japanese pianist Hiromi and what a winner of a collaboration it is too. Based on live recordings at the Blue Note club in Tokyo from 2007, this is the latest in what historically has been an intense relationship between jazz musicians and Japan and one that stretches back several decades to the like of Horace Silver with the ‘Tokyo Blues’ album, or Dave Brubeck and his ‘Impressions of Japan’. For Corea it is over forty years ago that he visited Japan as part of Stan Getz’s group in 1967. The connection with Hiromi goes back a decade to when the Japanese pianist was only seventeen. Now a maturing musician, Hiromi and Corea played together again at the 2006 Tokyo Jazz festival and a year later decided to record an album.

Compositions are shared between the two with Corea’s ‘Windows’ receiving a sumptuous treatment that conveys all the beauty of the original while ‘Deja Vu’ and ‘Place to be’ by Hiromi are surprisingly lyrical pieces from the pen of a relatively young pianist. The sensitive quasi-classical feel to Jobim’s ‘How insensitive’ is another highlight and Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’ becomes an extended improvisational number. Only ‘Concierto de Aranjuez/Spain’ disappoints with Corea’s latin-tinged theme being over-elaborate. Otherwise this ranks alongside last year’s Hank Jones and Joe Lovano live duet, and the Bebo Valdes and Diego El Cigala collaboration as one of the finest duet albums of recent years.

Tim Stenhouse