Chick Corea

Solo Piano: Originals

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Perhaps hearkening back to 1971's two-volume Piano Improvisations, pianist Chick Corea issues this majestic, two-part solo recording, the first disc of which features his original compositions. The music spans Corea's career thus far: opening with "Brasilia" and then "Yellow Nimbus" -- the latter written for flamenco guitarist Paco De Lucia -- he goes on to play "Armando's Rhumba," three selections from the 1983 solo piano album Children's Songs, and then a short, to-the-point "Spain," probably his most famous piece. (The finale, "Children's Song #12," runs over thirteen minutes.) Curiously, he also includes two preludes by classical composer Alexander Scriabin -- one of which he also played solo on 1986's Trio Music: Live in Europe. In an engaging twist, Corea plays four consecutive free improvisations, each inspired by an image or idea solicited from members of the concert audience: "April Snow," "The Chase," "The Falcon," and "Swedish Landscape" (The last title came from Corea himself). Each is a marvel of improvisational ingenuity and technical poise. To give credit where it is due, the idea of a two-part series featuring originals and standards was executed earlier by a much younger pianist, Ethan Iverson on Construction Zone and Deconstruction Zone. But regardless, Corea's two-disc opus serves as a sort of state-of-the-union address for his musicianship and piano mastery. While his chameleonic ways over the years have yielded some mixed results, this is Corea "unplugged," if you will, and at his very best.

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