Chick Corea

Selected Recordings (Rarum III)

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Chick Corea's long, varied career resists a definitive summary on any one disc, so inevitably this Rarum volume is going to be limited by definition. Indeed, Corea compresses his choices further to only three of his many ensembles: the first Brazilian-charged edition of Return to Forever, his duets with vibraphonist Gary Burton, and the superb reunited 1980s trio with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Roy Haynes (in any case, ECM promises a second Rarum volume of Corea chamber music in 2003). The present volume starts with a truncated version of the Return to Forever band's "Sometime Ago/La Fiesta" medley, the moody seven-minute intro lopped off perhaps to accommodate the limits of a CD that was pushing 80 minutes. Corea was deeply into the Fender-Rhodes electric piano in those days, and his liquid touch rides smoothly over Airto Moreira's shimmering, driving percussion, with saxophonist Joe Farrell, bassist Stanley Clarke, and singer Flora Purim contributing. Also from 1972, the Corea/Burton team -- a Manfred Eicher brainstorm -- achieves instant crystalline synergy in "Desert Air" and "What Game Shall We Play Today?," followed by two intricate tunes from their 1979 Zurich concert. A bit over half of the time on the CD is allotted to the trio, with no less than five excerpts from the Trio Music double album, from which two fascinating group improvisations and three skittering, swinging, loving takeoffs on tunes by Thelonious Monk emerge. Like Corea/Burton, the trio then goes live to Europe, purveying the standards "I Hear a Rhapsody," "Summer Night," and "Night and Day." Where's Circle, you may ask? Well, maybe that avant-garde band would have upset what was already a neat tripartite balance on a packed disc. Corea's written comments, moreover, are more helpful than some in this series.

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