Hot House is the seventh recording by the duo of pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton. This time out, Corea and Burton picked pieces by some of their favorite composers -- mostly from the jazz world, of course -- yet chose compositions that were less than obvious. A shining example is "Can't We Be Friends," an obscure standard closely associated with Art Tatum. Though it's a pop song, Tatum completely reinvented it in his image. In Corea's arrangement, the duo walks a balanced line between classic American pop, jazz modernism, and the legendary pianist's swinging take on stride. The reading of "Eleanor Rigby" commences with an elliptical piano intro; it's clean, graceful, and gives way to Burton's statement of the melody before the pair moves into a more uptempo engagement with the tune's harmonics. Tadd Dameron's "Hot House" is a conscious nod to the flurried exchanges between Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and is nearly pointillistic in its focus; there are gorgeous arpeggios and striking solos -- particularly Burton's. The inclusion of Thelonious Monk's "Light Blue" is wonderful. One of the most under-performed of all Monk's compositions, its solemn yet tender emotive tone and brief minor lyric statements are extrapolated upon by Corea to add another melodic statement onto the second chorus. Other standouts include a gracious version of Bill Evans' "Time Remembered," a haunting rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Chega de Saudade," and a lengthy, massively improvisatory version of Kurt Weill's "My Ship." The set closer, "Mozart Goes Dancing," is the only original included on the set. Written by Corea, it features the pair in the company of the Harlem String Quartet and reflects Corea's dexterity as a composer who uses rhythmic and lyric interplay to extend the reach of classical harmony toward jazz's realm of immediacy. It also contains a healthy dose of his playful sense of humor. The duo's approach in wedding mainstream and modern jazz (often inside the same tune) will appeal mostly to fans of the duo's previous six recordings. That said, Hot House is a further example of the nearly symbiotic language they've developed over the past 40 years, and is a stellar example of masterful dialogic articulation and execution. This is collaboration in its purest and and most elegant form.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek