1. Can't We Be Friends
2. Eleanor Rigby
3. Chega de Saudade
4. Time Remembered
5. Hot House
6. Strange Meadow Lark
7. Light Blue
8. Once I Loved
9. My Ship
10. Mozart Goes Dancing
Chick Corea - Piano;
Gary Burton - Vibraphone;
Ilmar Gavilán, Melissa White - Violins (track 10)
Juan Miguel Hernandez - Viola (track 10)
Paul Wiancko - Cello (track 10)
It is 40 years since Chick Corea and Gary Burton first played together - in an impromptu set at a German jazz festival. Since then, the pairing has proved one of the most inspiring in jazz. They only give concerts or make recordings from time to time, but perhaps the gaps between their meetings give them even more integration. In the sleeve-notes to this CD, Gary Burton says "within about ten minutes of getting together again the old communication snaps back in place". He adds "I can guess what Chick is going to play next from two blocks away, and he is the same with me".
This togetherness is clear throughout this new album. Past albums have usually consisted mainly of original compositions by Corea or Burton but this one consists largely of standards - either from the jazz world or the pop world. Chick and Gary didn't realise it at first, but eight of the ten pieces were written by pianists. The repertoire ranges from bebop classics (e.g. Hot House) via pop songs (Eleanor Rigby) to bossa novas (Once I Loved).
The title-track (composed by Tadd Dameron on the chord sequence of What is This Thing Called Love) is taken at an easy tempo which lets the listener savour the subtlety with which the duo plays together. In a way, the piano and vibraphone are similar instruments: both using keyboards which enable the musicians to play loud or soft, staccato or legato. Corea and Burton's empathy enables them to fit in with each other, with either one accompanying the other or both playing contrapuntally together. Arranged passages (mostly arranged by Chick) are interspersed with improvisation. And both men skip across the keys with astonishing speed and accuracy.
Antonio Carlos Jobim is the only composer to appear with two compositions: Chega de Saudade (which Chick and Gary learnt when they played with Stan Getz) and Once I Loved. The latter starts with a typically mysterious introduction before Gary plays the tune while Chick accompanies with roving hands which sometimes discover a repeated bass riff.
In Eleanor Rigby, Chick also provides an ostinato beneath Gary's shimmering vibes. Kurt Weill's My Ship is perhaps the most intriguing track on the album, as it wanders enigmatically, with the tune barely recognisable. But you can hear Corea and Burton listening to one another and somehow creating harmony. The harmony is accentuated by contrast with passages in which Chick and then Gary play alone.
The CD ends with the only original on the disc: Chick Corea's Mozart Goes Dancing, where the duo is joined by a string quartet. This is reminiscent of the duo's album Lyric Suite for Sextet which also created semi-classical moods using a string quartet.
With Chick Corea and Gary Burton, the technical mastery of their instruments is staggering but their togetherness is even more impressive. To borrow a phrase, the result is the sweetest sound this side of heaven.