Gary Burton / Chick Corea

Lyric Suite for Sextet

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AllMusic Review by Dave Connolly

Lyric Suite for Sextet reunites the Grammy-winning duo of vibraharpist Gary Burton and pianist Chick Corea, augmented this time by a string quartet. There's no denying the pair's technical proficiency creates some sparks, but the suite's abstruse melodies and discursive arrangements are daunting to follow. Like trying to catch a butterfly without a net, the opening "Overture" alights before listeners can pin it down, and what remains is a sensation of something sophisticated but ultimately elusive. The remaining sections are more spectres than songs, unwilling or unable to take a concrete form. A notable exception is "Brasilia," not coincidentally the one piece that favors melody over mathematics. Here and on "Dream" the strings are often out of the mix, allowing Burton and Corea to continue the relationship begun on albums like Duet. Similar to Frank Zappa's Jazz From Hell (which won a Grammy of its own in 1987, albeit in the rock category), Lyric Suite for Sextet may be too smart for its own good. No doubt Corea's work looked great on paper, but in performance it suggests the soundtrack to a PBS murder mystery (the apprehensive melodies and bittersweet subject matter are the main culprits here). If you enjoy jazz/classical hybrids, which are by their nature intellectual pursuits, than this music should pique your interest. However, better to think of this as a duet with some string support than a sextet of equal partners.

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