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Music

Corea, bandmates spectacular, timeless

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/9/2014 (977 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

FOR a jazz-fusion hero, Chick Corea spent the early part of his nearly 2½-hour Tuesday night concert looking back -- at John Coltrane and Bud Powell.

Corea dedicated the concert to saxophone great Coltrane, who would have turned 88 on Tuesday, and opened the show with Tempus Fugit, one of the best-known tunes by bebop pianist Powell that Corea listened to on his father's 78s.

Pianist Chick Corea dedicated his Sept. 23 performance to John Coltrane.

DWAYNE LARSON PHOTO

Pianist Chick Corea dedicated his Sept. 23 performance to John Coltrane.

But as he gave a nod to jazz's past, Corea and his spectacular bandmates were decidedly in the here and now as they paid tribute to Powell, and used the opener to say, out loud, "This is how good we are," through a round robin of simply great solos.

And they were good, very good, through music old and new -- as an ensemble, as soloists and in mixed duos that at one point, during Portals to Forever, had Corea playing keyboards and percussionist Luisito Quintero waving a flex hose.

Portals, one of two tunes from Corea's new recording The Vigil, was a tour de force of tight group play and inventive solos that brought audience members to their feet.

The piece started with a percussion solo, but included a raging tenor saxophone solo by Tim Garland, a piano/bass duet that had Carlitos del Puerto trading Jaco-like riffs with Corea, and a terrific drum solo from Marcus Gilmore, the mid-20s phenom whose grandfather just happens to be Roy Haynes, perhaps the greatest living jazz drummer.

The second tune from The Vigil was Royalty, a Corea composition dedicated to Haynes, that featured guitarist Charles Altura in one of many great solos and a terrific unaccompanied tenor solo.

Anna's Tango, for Corea's mother, featured Garland on bass clarinet, an instrument he used to great effect throughout the night. On some tunes he played three instruments from his arsenal that also included flute and alto sax.

Zyryab, by former Corea collaborator Paco de Lucia, opened with a beautiful piano solo by Corea and featured a guitar/piano duet that just sang, a soprano/bass duet that rocked and some almost epic soprano soloing that, all in all, whipped the crowd in a frenzy.

Corea played a baby grand piano for the first 1½ hours of the show before touching his electric keyboards, as if to say, "This is where my roots are and I can play anything from my career on it."

That said, he played the encore, Spain, on keyboards and it was the highlight of the night for audience members who delighted in singing back to Corea note configurations he played for them.

Corea and his band are timeless, whether playing new music from The Vigil, or reaching back to 1971 to treat fans to the favourite Spain.

chris.smith@freepress.mb.ca

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