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Disc review: Chick Corea, ‘Trilogy’

The tour itineraries included Washington, D.C.; Oakland, Calif.; Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Turkey and Japan. Chick Corea’s mates in his trio were bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. Flutist Jorge Pardo and guitarist Nino Josele joined them for two tunes in Madrid. Corea’s wife, Gayle Moran, sang “Some Day My Prince Will Come” with them in Sapporo, Japan.

What you have here, then, is Corea’s selection of his highlights of the two international tours by one of the greatest working acoustic piano trios in all of jazz proving to the world that they are, as the saying goes, all of that. (Only Keith Jarrett’s truly venerable “Standards Trio” and Brad Mehldau’s now-disbanded long-running aggregate even come within shouting distance.)

Which, if you ask me, might have been a better title for this three-disc set than the rather prosaic “Trilogy.”

There’s a lot to love – a rollicking version of Monk’s “Blue Monk” where bassist McBride parties down in a kind of cross-generational shout-out to his ancestor Percy Heath in Monk’s original recording of it. And there’s a lot that will impress – a half-hour version of Corea’s “Piano Sonata: The Moon” and a version of a prelude by the now-hugely fashionable Russian composer Alexander Scriabin that is both unafraid to be straight-ahead jazz and way too cool to be dreaded jazz/classical kitsch.

But, at the same time, there’s nothing on this collection of live concert recordings that is anything but three of the most gifted instrumentalists in jazz, understanding and sparking each other perfectly in a musical brotherhood stronger than most real ones.

I wish the disc notes had been clearer on what transpired where. And the trio’s guests in Spain seem to subtract more than they add. But if, like me, you’ve forgotten how beautifully Moran performs with her husband, listen to her performance of “Some Day My Prince Will Come” with him. She takes the song way too high, right from the beginning, making you cower in listener’s fear at the high notes to come, but she negotiates them in free-falsetto flight with joy and all the confidence in the world that the man at the piano would rather die than let her fall.

One of the good jazz season’s major sets.


Chick Corea Trio


[Stealth/Concord, three discs]

3.5 stars

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