The Definitive Chick Corea on Stretch and Concord, a new compilation co-produced by the artist himself, includes twenty-one tracks spread over two CDs. Even though Corea’s first album, Tones for Joan’s Bones, was released in 1966, this compilation focuses primarily on the 1990s and 2000s. A few cuts dip back into the early ‘80s, but overall the set is geared towards more recent work. As such, fidelity is predictably excellent throughout (par for the course with Concord’s Definitive series). Don Heckman’s newly penned liner notes lean a bit toward hyperbole at times, but still provide a satisfactory overview of Corea’s career.
It’s not easy singling out highlights from a collection that is essentially all highlights. In 2007, Corea reteamed with vibraphonist Gary Burton for The New Crystal Silence, which won the Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. The duo, backed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, reworked Corea’s indelible “Crystal Silence,” and that recording is included here. A duet with Japanese pianist Hiromi on The Beatles’ “Fool on the Hill,” also from 2007, is an inventive reinvention. Another rewarding collaboration is Corea’s duet with Bobby McFerrin on Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk.” Hearing McFerrin’s vocal riffing against Corea’s piano is great fun.
Corea’s 1997 tribute to the late bebop great Bud Powell, appropriately titled “Bud Powell,” features great ensemble interplay highlighted by trumpeter Wallace Roney and alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett. From 1999 comes a breathtaking solo take on the standard “It Could Happen to You.” Michael Brecker turns in some great tenor soloing on 1981’s “Quartet No. 1,” while guitarist Pat Metheny is a highlight on a 1997 revisiting of Corea’s classic “Windows.”
From his groundbreaking contributions to Miles Davis’ landmark late-‘60s and early-‘70s albums, through his own fusion milestones as leader of Return To Forever, right up to his most recent explorations, Chick Corea is among the most singular voices in jazz. The Definitive Chick Corea on Stretch and Concord provides a well-chosen selection of choice cuts from his more recent years.