Chick Corea, John Patitucci & Dave Weckl, The Blue Note, NYC, 12/14
It is so refreshing to see a concert every once in a while where people are there for the music. Not the drugs, not the "scene," not to party with friends, nothing but pure music.
Chick Corea absolutely "wowed" me on Friday night. His line-up was the core of his Electrik Band of mid-80's fame, and was entirely acoustic. Patitucci on bass, Weckl on the drum kit, and Chick on piano. The evening started out on a bad foot, as we "lost" our reservation b/c of some confusion as to "lines," and due in part to us getting there at 9:50 (they hold reservations until 10). So after waiting for a very long line to move past us (if you missed your reservation, you were penalized by having to wait for everyone and their mother to get in from the "general public" line before you can enter, when they'll "try to fit you in as best as possible"), we got in and got a surprisingly good table.
The house was wall-to-wall people. There was an excited din throughout the room as everyone waited to embark on this musical journey. As the emcee announced Chick, an expectant hush fell upon the crowd. When the band emerged from the "green room" upstairs and made their way down to the stage, the applause was almost deafening. This is what we had been waiting for, and boy did we get it.
I didn't recognize every tune on Friday night but I was familiar with quite a few. One that stood out was "Spain." I've heard this covered before (Bela Fleck does a decent job with it), but to actually hear Chick play this was quite a treat. It started out with a discordant, almost spacey feel, as the bad moved through complex melodies seemingly independent of one another, but at the drop of a hat, all three musicians pulled it together into the main theme of the composition. What followed was almost 30 minutes of pure, unadulterated "jamming." And not in the sense of the jambands scene, but three musicians laying down note after perfect note, sometimes together, sometimes separate, but with a sense and knowledge of the music and the directions in which they were taking it that is unparalleled by most contemporary musicians. This pure improvisational style is where most every jamband gets its inspiration (if you can call it that) for the music they make. Jazz is the foundation of the majority of the music that we discuss on this site. Some of the bands we see fall more into this category (the Slip, Club D'Elf, Ron Levy), while others use it as a stepping stone to invent their own sense of the jam.
This obviously wasn’t a “get up and dance” type of show. I spent the majority of it bobbing my head and tapping my feet. What Chick relies on is perfectly complex compositions and a masterful conception of each instrument's role. Chick is a virtuoso on the piano, Patitucci is an unbelievably tight bassist (one of the best living, in my opinion) who floored me with his delicate touch on the upright and Dave Weckl is on par with Brian Blade, Elvin Jones, and Bob Moses. The three of these musicians playing on stage together was perfection. Each one of their abilities matched and complemented the two other performers (no egos clashing), and the result was pure jazz.
This show reaffirmed my belief that jazz is a purely intellectual form of music. Yes, you can casually listen to it, and possibly glean something of the meaning behind it, but it takes years and years of study and exposure to truly understand what each note means in regards to the overall composition of the piece.
Sorry for the digression, but I wanted to convey how amazing Chick was on Friday night. His residency continues at the Blue Note through December 23, bringing together some of the notable collaborators over the course of his career (one that will likely continue for some time…he looks 60 going on 35).