Recorded over a year after Chick Corea's debut Tones for Joan's Bones -- a record cut in late 1966 but not appearing until 1968 -- Now He Sings, Now He Sobs feels like his true first album, the place where he put all the pieces in motion for his long, adventurous career. Much of that has to do with the closed quarters of its recording. Supported by drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Miroslav Vitous, Corea has the freedom to run wild on his five original compositions, letting chords cluster alongside fleet melodic runs. Haynes and Vitous play with the same sense of liberation, which pushes Now He Sings, Now He Sobs into a sweet spot where hard bop and avant intersect. There's an intellectual rigor balanced by an instinctual hunger that makes for music that's lively and challenging while also containing a patina of comfort. Chalk the latter up to the elegance of Corea's piano trio: they move through the dense bop with the same grace that they settle into ballads, a sound that is warm and inviting, yet never disguises how the trio -- and Corea especially -- never stop probing and exploring the outer edges of this music. While it's possible to hear Now He Sings, Now He Sobs as an opening salvo to Corea's career, it also exists as its own special thing because it captures the pianist at the brink: it's kinetic, exciting, and filled with endless possibilities.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine