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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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CHICK COREA

The Vigil

Concord 7234578

 

 

  1. Galaxy 32 Star 4

  2. Planet Chia

  3. Portals to Forever

  4. Royalty

  5. Outside of Space

  6. Pledge for Peace

  7. Legacy

 

Chick Corea – Piano , keyboards

Tim Garland – Saxes, flute , bass clarinet

Charles Altura – Guitar

Hadrien Feraud – Bass

Marcus Gilmore – Drums

Guests:

Gayle Moran Corea – Vocal

Pernell Saturnino – Percussion

Stanley Clarke – Bass

Ravi Coltrane – Tenor sax

 

Recent releases by Chick Corea have featured him as part of a trio or with, for instance, Gary Burton and the Harlem String Quartet or yet again, in collaboration with the highly gifted Stefano Bollani. They have illustrated both his scope as a composer and as a keyboard virtuoso. His latest album offers a new group of musicians and new music and arrangements but not novelty. As I understand it, the concept underlying The Vigil is about ‘keeping the faith’, in this case with the tradition of Corea’s electric Return to Forever group of the 1970s. That group drew on rock, jazz, classical and Latin music and was an influential part of the fusion scene of that time. Echoes of the group can be found on this new CD. The somewhat eccentric cover sleeve which portrays Chick as a Don Quixote figure (or El Cid, take your pick) is, I guess, a means of communicating his commitment to the project.

As usual, Chick has a hand-picked ensemble of top-flight musicians, prominent among them Tim Garland, the British reeds player, who of course has kept musical company with Corea on other occasions. Galaxy 32 Star 4 is a punchy and pacey opener with guitarist Altura and the skittering soprano sax of Garland making a statement. The total effect is highly listenable jazz funk. Planet Chia is a stylish and rhythmic Latin piece. Garland is as inventive as ever and there is a strong collective sound, particularly enhanced by the interaction between guitar and keyboard and propelled along by drummer Gilmore (the grandson of Roy Haynes) and French bassist Hadrien Feraud. Portals to Forever is noted for its repetitive theme and sustained riffs as well as for excellent electric and acoustic piano passages by Chick, an exuberant contribution by Garland, and sterling work by Hadrien Feraud on the electric bass. This one definitely grows on you. Royalty is dedicated to drummer Roy Haynes and opens in meditative fashion before taking off into a gently swinging melody which shows off Corea’s delicate skills on piano as well as Garland’s creativity, not to mention the mellow Altura. Outside of Space features Mrs Corea (Gayle Moran, singer) whose vocal style is something of an acquired taste but, within its 5 minute compass, this piece allows the band to briefly parade their talents.

Pledge for Peace was performed before a live audience and has Ravi Coltrane guesting in impressively muscular style on tenor, Corea playing piano in quicksilver fashion, Feraud contributing an expertly executed and funky bass solo, and the band in the later stages whipping up a powerful storm, urged on by Corea’s increasingly percussive playing. Legacy is the fast moving final track of the album, featuring Corea on electric keyboard and Stanley Clarke (an original member of Return to Forever) on bass, the band combining to produce a melodic piece of fusion.

Those nostalgic for the music of the 70s era and those who simply appreciate vibrant ensemble playing will enjoy this CD.

James Poore



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