The duet format, and the way that Corea and Burton execute it, poses some interesting questions. It’s a bit like listening to a dramatic play on the radio – the listener needs to fill in the picture. It creates extended intricate interplay between the two virtuosi (and these two are among the best in their fields). It allows for multiple, subtle tempo changes within a single song – shifting from swing to stride to Latin, etc. Personal chemistry certainly counts in the success of the collaboration, as evidenced by their tight harmonizing and the way each player seems to anticipate the other’s improvisational direction.
Additionally, both musicians have characteristics that aid in their playing. Corea has always been known for his precise attack and strong rhythmic foundation, which helps the listener fill in spaces. Burton’s mastery of the four-mallet technique helps him provide strong rhythmic support during Corea’s solos.
But the duet setting poses difficulties as well. It requires more patience and concentration from listeners. Partly because of the interplay between Corea and Burton, and partly because some of these songs do not have familiar melody lines, It will be difficult for many listeners to distinguish between introduction, melody and solos. If you’re not familiar with a particular song, I recommend you find the original version of it on YouTube or your favorite music provider and then compare it with the version found here.
If your idea of a jazz song is two solo choruses sandwiched between the melody, you’ll probably want to take a pass on this CD. But if you have the patience to delve further, and explore the interactions and chemistry between two masters, Hot House has much to offer to jazz aficionados.