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Corea & Burton deliver a house of sound at Aeolian
by Renée Silberman (Beat Magazine)
Chick Corea and Gary Burton have heard it all, played it all, and created it all. These two consummate musicians joined forces in a sophisticated, stylish expedition through the many musical genres they know inside and out - they delivered a houseful of sound, they were joyous and tender by turns. They were pros, sharing their inventive genius, their prodigious techniques, their communicative skills. Hyperbole? Hero worship? Nope – Corea and Burton are true stars in the jazz firmament, and London was lucky to experience their magic.
In addition to possessing great artistic gifts, Burton and Corea also recognize the virtue of supporting educational ventures. The proceeds from the gate went to El Sistema. a training method modeled on the hugely successful experiment led by conductor Gustavo Dudamel in Venezuela some years ago; now, here at the Aeolian Hall, Clark Bryan has introduced the method, a rigorous and inspiring system that helps young people develop their passion for musical performance. Bryan deserves enormous praise for the complex organization he runs at the Aeolian, for the educational ventures he initiates, and for nurturing contacts with musicians from across the artistic community. We are all the beneficiaries of Clark Bryan’s fertile imagination, of his energetic pursuit of excellence.
And so, the confluence of ideals, ideas, and action! Corea and Burton, along with the Harlem String Quartet, came to advance music education opportunities here in London, came to launch their new CD, Hot House, and to entertain an adoring public. Burton and Corea, took a ramble through some oldies, beginning with Native Sense, rich with melodic Latin strands, while the keen rhythmic sense sent out primal impulses. Both artists were in fine form; the elegance of Burton at the vibraphone established an immediate charm, Corea’s intense support below the tune steadily driving the piece toward a dance-like conclusion.
Eleanor Rigby picked up where the Beatles left off. The Beatles might have given us the song, but Corea deepened the mood, added a new dimension with complex coloration, emphasizing the forward momentum of the music. Watching Corea stroke, hammer, play with, as well as on, the instrument, is a thrill for any pianist. Many lessons could have been learned regarding keyboard control – how to caress and how to draw out every emotional sensation under the sun. The first half of the program concluded with a “visit” to Brazil, with a work by the great artist Antonio Carlos Jobim. Burton’s impeccable vibraphone solo found the sweet spot in the fluid, hot and cool language of South America.
The second half of the program revealed other aspects of Chick Corea's remarkable talents. Corea acknowledges many of the influential currents in his musical evolution - he's played with the best, Herbie Hancock and Stan Getz, to name but two giants of the jazz world. But there is more - Corea lives in many musical dimensions - his ventures into the world of chamber music, for instance, composing, if not in the idiom of the classical masters, within the formal structures they originated. Corea and Burton were joined by the Harlem String Quartet, the excellent student Quartet in Residence at the New England Conservatory of Music, in a movement from Corea's Sextet; the work quivered with every element of jazz and high art, woven into a fascinating, Protean work. A movement for string quartet further was a showcase piece for the fine young chamber group.
Thelonius Monk's Round Midnight proved to be a point of departure for Corea and Burton and their skillful improvising. One felt the multi-directional pathways opening - streams of styles ran through the performance of this mid-twentieth century jazz classic - but there were no lapses into chaos. Burton and Corea, each with a distinctive voice, travel together along the byways, reading each other's soul with real unity of purpose.
Mozart Goes Dancing, is a recent composition written expressly for the new CD. As Burton explained, a "dialogue" between the composers took place while Corea worked out his modern masterpiece. The slightly frenetic conversation between Mozart and Corea became conflated as "Mozarea." A great piece of self-identification for a latter day multi-gifted artist!
Hats off to Clark Bryan for bringing a fantastic show to Aeolian Hall!
And many thanks to Chick Corea and Gary Burton for creating a memorable evening of great jazz in London!!