Cheese fest or Champions? Béla Fleck and Chick Corea | Music Feature | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Cheese fest or Champions? Béla Fleck and Chick Corea 

Published May 1, 2007 at 12:06 p.m.


I'm breaking with the Eddie Palmeri kick. I really enjoy theidea of examining the Jazz Fest schedule an artist at a time, but ever since Iheard of this duo, I've been bursting with questions.

Since my love affair with jazz fusion began, Chick Corea has been there. Thefirst jazz album I fell in love with was Miles Davis' In a Silent Way. ChickCorea joins the jaw dropping line up of Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, WayneShorter, Joe Zawinul, Dave Holland and Tony Williams for this, considered thefirst of Miles Davis' fusion recordings.

Chick Corea went on to form Return to Forever, a whimsical fusion group whorecorded through the 1970's in various forms. My favorite iterations of Return to Forever feature Brazilian born drummer Airto Moreira and his wife,vocalist Flora Purim. These are not albums I can listen to often, despite theircharm. As the leader of these project, Chick Corea's tendency towards, as Irefer to it, cheese, begins to show through. I will play these albums (checkout 1972's Light as a Feather) when I have children. The playful Latinbeats paired with Purim's unusual voice seems like perfect nursery music to me,but that is the next time in my life I plan on listening to these albums withany frequency.

With Chick Corea, we observe a phenomenon common among jazz fusionartists.  They excel when paired with other musicians of equal talent andstatus,  but when given too much creative control, the cheese factor growsexponentially.

On Crystal Silence, also released in 1972, vibraphonist and formerpresident of Berklee School of Music, Gary Burton was the perfect balance forMr. Corea. This album is my most prized of all my record collection. When Ipurchased it, the gentleman I bought it from asked me to come back in an hourbefore I bought it, when I returned, he was giving it one last listen. It wasthat hard for him to part with an album of this magnitude in perfect condition.

So here's my question: Will Béla Fleck's fast picking be enough to reign inChick Corea. Or will this Flecktone fuel the phenomenon in question?

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