Release Date: Sep 4, 2012
Record label: Concord
Hot House is the seventh recording by the duo of pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton. This time out, Corea and Burton picked pieces by some of their favorite composers -- mostly from the jazz world, of course -- yet chose compositions that were less than obvious. A shining example is "Can't We Be Friends," an obscure standard closely associated with Art Tatum.
"Iused to think that someday we would run out of ideas," Gary Burton said recently, but he and Chick Corea have been playing duets for 30 years now, on and off, and they still work together like a pair of endlessly creative twins. Piano and vibraphone make a formidable combination – percussive, harmonic, melodic – and simply following the interweaving lines will keep all your faculties busy. But you'd have to be seriously unmusical not to be charmed by the elegance of it.
Forty years ago, vibraphonist Gary Burton and pianist-composer Chick Corea recorded an intimate duet session in Norway; released as Crystal Silence, the LP was a contemplative anomaly for both artists, who were better known at the time for fearlessly cross-pollinating post-bop’s shriveled flower with flecks of country, Latin, rock, and blues. (Burton’s previous duet album, produced with the more modally exuberant Keith Jarrett, was essentially a soul-pop record with forgone vocals and extended solos. ) Though composed of pared down fusion covers, Crystal Silence reconfigured what were only remotely jazz-like compositions, such as Corea’s own “What Game Shall We Play Today,” into explicitly jazz arrangements; the interpretive skills of the players, and their ability to weave in and out of each other’s improvisational bursts, were emphasized.
Anyone who’s seen Chick Corea in concert once knows what to expect on a return visit. At a certain point in his career, his sense of showmanship began to play at least as big a role as his technical ability. It matters not whom his bandmates are or what sub-genre is being explored; Corea brings the same boundless enthusiasm to seemingly every show.
The 40-year-old piano/vibraphone partnership of Chick Corea and Gary Burton returns with new variations on composers from Art Tatum to Tadd Dameron, Jobim, Brubeck and McCartney. Corea and Burton are devotees of the shapely, symmetrical and song-rooted – so this album is flawlessly graceful, even if some episodes (the intricate piano ostinato under Eleanor Rigby) border on the distractingly clever. But their musicianship and empathy win out, particularly on a 10-minute account of My Ship simmering with time changes, a tender examination of Thelonious Monk's solemn Light Blue, and a rumination on Time Remembered that draws on Corea's imaginative devotion to its composer, Bill Evans.
An energetic new duo set from a pair of sidemen turned icons themselves. Kevin Le Gendre 2012 Duos are often feted for their intimacy, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't have any energy. At their most dynamic, pianist Corea and vibraphonist Burton, formerly sidemen to Miles Davis and George Shearing respectively, make for a Catherine wheel combination, playing scores of notes in quick succession with a percussive drive and sharpness of attack that reflect a cast-iron command of bebop.