Chick Corea and Bela Fleck, Wharton Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI- 3/1
There isn't much more you can say about two great jazz legends that hasn't already been said a thousand times before.
I'm clamoring to come up with the words to describe the March 1 show given by piano great Chick Corea and banjo master Bela Fleck, but nothing is coming out quite right.
"Timeless," "visionaries," and "transcendent," have been written before. So, I'm going to sum up the show in two words: Simply great. Of course, everyone knows Corea from his days playing electric piano for Miles Davis on landmark albums In A Silent Way, and Bitches Brew. Fleck is known for the Flecktones, naturally.
The two greats are currently out on a brief tour of the U.S., and apparently, an album is in the works to be released sometime this year.
If the show is any indication, the music forthcoming on the compact disc will be fantastic.
Due to the mass amounts of wind, water, ice, rain, thunderstorms and snow the entire state of Michigan was experiencing that day, Corea and Fleck arrived to the venue only ten minutes before show time. Sans luggage that was lost somewhere between Chicago and East Lansing, it was a miracle they even made it there at all. Dressed as causal as possible, the two took to the minimalist – a grand piano, a chair, Fleck's trademark banjo – and delivered two fine sets of mellow, atmospheric jazz.
I'm not sure if they were echoing the ominous weather outside, but the second song of the evening, "Menagerie," had an eerie, Noir-film soundtrack vibe, that saw Corea plucking the strings of his piano to simulate a thunder sound. Fleck, with eyes always fixed on Corea, playfully plucked along as his hands moved relentlessly up and down his instrument. At times, Fleck's playing was so fast and furious, the music coming out was almost trance inducing, somewhat akin to an Indian raga. Corea, dressed in cargo pants and a flannel shirt, seemed to have the most fun, playfully moving up and down the keys of his piano, while always smiling and cracking private jokes with Fleck in-between songs. During the second set, the duo ran through Corea's "Children's Song No. 6," off his Solo Piano: Originals, which had a breezy, Sunday-afternoon-in-the-summer ambience, perfect for an evening where most were feeling discontented about the weather.
After a one-song encore, the two gladly took in the standing ovation of an adoring crowd, and were off again into the late winter Michigan night. Even if I lack for words to describe the show, Fleck and Corea certainly needed none, and the music itself said everything.