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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Stretch by Concord




1. You’re My Everything

2. Recorda Me

3. The Song Is You

4. Work

5. My Foolish Heart

6. Fingerprints

7. Spain


1. This Is New

2. Alice in Wonderland

3. It Could Happen to You

4. Blue Monk

5. Armando’s Rhumba

6. Op. 11, No. 9

7. How Deep Is the Ocean?


1. Homage

2. Piano Sonata: The Moon

3. Someday My Prince Will Come

Chick Corea - Piano

Christian McBride – Bass

Brian Blade – Drums

Jorge Pardo - Flute (tracks I/4, 7)

Niño Josele – Acoustic guitar (tracks I/4, 7)

Gayle Moran Corea - Vocals (track III/3)

Wow! If you are looking for a jazz album with the Wow Factor, look no further. It is already a strong contender for my Jazz Album of the Year. That was almost inevitable, given that it is performed by a trio of some of America’s top-class musicians. It consists of three CDs containing what Corea calls “the very distilled results” of two extensive tours that Chick’s trio made in 2010 and 2012. The repertoire includes tunes from the Great American Songbook, jazz standards and five originals by Corea, plus an adaptation of a piece by Scriabin.

The material may seem mostly conventional but it is performed in a remarkable variety of styles. These musicians not only have impeccable techniques but they are also extremely versatile. Chick himself is already well-known for his mastery of the keyboard but he also appeals to me because melody is one of his primary concerns. Hearing some examples of today’s jazz, one sometimes tires of brilliantly talented musicians playing music that has little melodic content. After all, the listening public is usually attracted primarily to tunes, and Corea’s music has plenty of tunefulness. And his introductions to several numbers are intriguingly mysterious: like Errol Garner’s intros, you never quite know what is coming next.

He is consummately accompanied by bassist Chrsitian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. McBride might be regarded as the Ray Brown de nos jours: perhaps not with such a gorgeously deep bass sound as Ray had but with a supreme ability to get around the instrument and make it speak. Blade is another technically adept musician who here provides almost telepathic backing for the others. The two guests who appear on a couple of tracks fulfil their roles. The only disappointment is the contribution from Chick Corea’s wife, Gayle Moran. It is made more regretful by coming at the end of the set, where one would expect a satisfying finish. Gayle can hold long notes impressively but her intonation is wobbly and it sounds as if Someday My Prince Will Come is in the wrong key for her. In fact the third CD is also disappointing because it only lasts for around 50 minutes. Surely more material could have been added from such long tours.

The tracks are too numerous to go through in detail but I can pick out some typically inspiring aspects. Chick must have played Spain a thousand times, yet this 18-minute version sounds almost entirely new, with acoustic guitar introduction (appropriate for a theme originating in a guitar concerto). Incidentally, I was once with a fairly able band which tried to play Spain but had to give up after several rehearsals – it’s not as easy as it may sound!

On It Could Happen To You, Chick’s piano plays leapfrog with McBride’s double bass. Blue Monk is not just a blues but a new creation, although you can still feel Thelonious Monk’s spirit behind it. And the wide range of the trio’s abilities are shown by the contrast between the unstoppably swinging Work (ecstatic drumming from Brian Blade!) and the almost avant-garde Homage.

If it is not already clear, I think you should get this album if you possibly can. It is a fine example of what musicians can achieve if they are as inventive and thoughtful as they are technically adroit.

Tony Augarde

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