Words by Dashaun Simmons @13Rose | Photo by Frank Stewart
It’s not every day that you get to see one of the greats perform in their element. When presented with the opportunity to see a musical legend like Chick Corea, the questions is not if you should go but rather when. Jazz fans in New York City were treated to a three day engagement with Chick Corea performing alongside Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra (JALCO). On the final night, the Lincoln Center Rose Theater was filled with mostly an older crowd looking to be wowed by exceptional piano playing and great arrangements. The performance that evening went far beyond their expectations.
In between the amazing numbers performed by the incomparable JALCO, Chick Corea was able to fill the big space of the Rose Theater and give off the intimate vibe of a place like Smalls. His off the cuff humor was much appreciated but not as much as the jaw dropping arrangements of the evening. The song executions were often very lush with the kind of intricate precision that keeps Jazz in a class of its own. One big band piece that Corea originally wrote for the band at MIT in his home town of Massachusetts brought him from behind the piano. He took center stage as a conductor leading the JALCO players through the nimble arrangement. At one point during this layered composition he tag teamed with a fellow pianist taking turns on the piano until they finally joined forces playing together simultaneously. The result was a reminder of why the name Chick Corea remains in the conversation of legend.
Great solos by the JALCO members including trombone player Chris Chrenshaw, Carlos Henriquez on bass and the great trumpeter Wynton Marsalis really showcased what’s going on at Lincoln Center on a regular basis even without the additional start power of legends of the past. Corea’s wife Gayle Moran joined the band for a lovely number. At one point she stopped mid verse to express her astonishment at the ability of her husband of 40 plus years.
If you have the opportunity to see the legends of yesteryear run don’t walk to get a ticket. The quality of musicianship exhibited by key players of Chick Corea’s era isn’t on display very often these days. He’s one of the few that are still around earning the title of master. Take advantage of the fact that he’s still here. Your ears and heart will thank you.