The audience at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall didn’t just know Chick Corea and Gary Burton because of their respective (and impeccable) musical resumes. They knew them because everybody’s met one example of these guys sometime in their lives – i.e. two people who’ve been together so long, they complete each other’s sentences. It’s an effect that goes beyond marriages, beyond families.
“That’s a song we’ve been playing for 40 years,” Corea told us at the end of Tadd Dameron’s “Hot House,” the title track from Corea and Burton’s latest recorded collaboration. Corea’s smile really lit up the space, something it did not do in the first set: Some sort of foreign object (a piano-tuner’s tool, presumably) had gotten wedged inside the piano, and it was noticeably effecting the sound of the instrument – not enough to stop the show, or even to damage the overall beauty of the first set, but it definitely put Corea off his mental game.
It’s been four decades since Corea and Burton released their landmark debut duet album, Crystal Silence, and over the years, they’ve recorded several more truly magnificent albums.
In fact, they released a brand new album, Hot House, just last month, in which the duo explores gems from the catalogs of such diverse composers as Dave Brubeck, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Lennon & McCartney.
Chick Corea, Gary Burton and the Harlem String Quartet
Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Hilary Scott
This weekend will be the first Labor Day weekend without the traditional, end-of-the-season Tanglewood Jazz Festival, which has been replaced with a string of pop and rock concerts – the return of Train with Andy Grammer and Mat Kearney at 7pm on Friday; Evanescence with Chevelle at 7pm on Saturday; and the Boston Pops Orchestra with Christine Ebersole, Betty Buckley and Michael Feinstein at 2:30pm on Sunday.
But don’t think that the folks at Tanglewood have abandoned their commitment to jazz. Instead of one big festival weekend, this year they spread some top-notch jazz concerts throughout the summer months, hosting individual concerts by Diana Krall, Chris Botti, the Wynton Marsalis Quintet and this past Sunday evening, the sparkling duoChick Corea and Gary Burton.
It’s been four decades since pianist-composer Chick Corea and vibraphone virtuoso Gary Burton released their magnificent debut duet album, “Crystal Silence.” So it may have been safe to assume that their 40th anniversary tour would find the twosome reflecting on the past and cherry-picking nuggets from their back-catalog.
But Corea and Burton didn’t play it safe. And at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, their focus was on the future rather than the past.
Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Everything you expected from Chick Corea was on display in the literally packed-to-the-walls Massry Center. Technical and creative brilliance? Check. Musical knowledge grown from decades of experience? Check. A sense of humor that had people rolling in the aisles? Ch… Wait, what?
That’s right, humor – natural, unforced humor and lots of it, from a musical icon who was decidedly comfortable in his own skin. Corea dazzled us and dumbfounded us over the course of two magical solo-piano sets that touched on everything from Stevie Wonder to Bela Bartok. Mind you, he could have done that if he hadn’t said a word. The quality and invention of the music was of that caliber. But Corea made the effort not only to to engage us, but to involve us in his past and present.
“I don’t usually play solo piano, but I enjoy it,” Corea told us at the outset, dressed down for the occasion in a black hood and matching jeans. Then, mischief creeping into his voice, he added, “Because I can do anything I want. I don’t have to worry about my partners.” He pronounced the last word “pahht-nuhhs”, showing the accent that came from his Chelsea, MA upbringing. “I don’t have a plan tonight,” he added. “Except me, the piano and you.” Turns out that was all he needed.
“I remember the first record store that I used to go to on Mass. Ave. in Boston, where I grew up. There was a guy who worked there named Jimmy, who was a friend to me and my drummer buddy Lenny Nelson. And I remember going in there and checking with Jimmy on the release of some of the records that I was waiting to get.
I think that it was probably later on, but I remember hearing about the first Miles Davis solo album. It was called ‘Dig,’ and it had Sonny Rollins on it. And Horace Silver and Percy Heath and, I think, Art Blakey, too.
I used to go by the store and ask Jimmy, ‘Is it in yet? Is it in yet?’ And I remember that when it finally did come in, me and my friend Lenny just devoured the album.
But actually some of the very first records that I remember listening to were 78s that my dad owned – things like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie’s recordings on Roost and some of Bud Powell’s music.”
A DownBeat Hall of Famer, 18-time Grammy Award-winner, brilliant American composer and undisputed keyboard virtuoso, Chick Corea steps into the spotlight for a solo piano concert at the College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center in Albany at 7:30pm on Wednesday (April 4). Tix are $35; VIP tix including pre-concert reception are $75.UPDATE: This concert is now officially sold out.
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