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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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The New Crystal Silence

Concord 0888072306301




1. Duende
2. Love Castle
3. Brasilia
4. Crystal Silence
5. La Fiesta

1. Bud Powell
2. Waltz for Debby
3. Alegria
4. No Mystery
5. Senor Mouse
6. Sweet and Lovely
7. I Loves You, Porgy
8. La Fiesta
Chick Corea - Piano
Gary Burton - Vibes
Sydney Symphony conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer (on CD1)


Recently, when I reviewed an album by Howard Alden and Ken Peplowski, I commented on the particular quality of the jazz duet - a form which necessitates close attention from both the musicians involved. This is particularly true of the duets which Chick Corea and Gary Burton have been playing together since 1971. Their two "keyboard" instruments are in danger of smothering or clashing with one another, but they skilfully avoid this. Corea and Burton listen and react to one another constantly, as you can hear in the duets on the second CD of this double album. On the opening tune, Chick Corea's composition Bud Powell, they listen intently to each other - blending together in harmony, reacting telepathically and throwing ideas back and forth. They are equally matched in technical ability and impeccable virtuosity, so this is a meeting of equals, although Chick occasionally tends to dominate his colleague.

This double album is called The New Crystal Silence because the duo's first album together, recorded in 1972, was entitled Crystal Silence. Special delights of the second CD in this set are Waltz for Debby (where Corea playfully hints at other tempos besides the waltz) and No Mystery - a lovely tune first recorded by Chick's Return to Forever group on the 1975 album of the same name. Corea's "Spanish tinge" is noticeable in his compositions Alegria, Senor Mouse and the catchy La Fiesta, which makes a rousing finale to this second CD.

It is worth getting this album for the second disc alone. In fact that may be what you have to do anyway, as the first CD is a disappointment. Tim Garland adds orchestral backings to the duo, played by a large ensemble (the Sydney Symphony). These orchestral additions dot i's and cross t's quite unnecessarily and often detract from the duo's interaction. Somehow the process diminishes the jazzmen's freedom of expression without adding anything worthwhile. The performance of La Fiesta sounds more stilted than the one on CD2, eventually descending into bombast. At least the overkill of the first CD underlines the heavenly beauty of the second CD, where the jazzers are allowed to play without interference.

Tony Augarde





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