A great Chick Corea concert when the audience sat in

A Barbican, London, concert on 6 July 2015. Chick Corea was playing in a two-piano feature with Herbie Hancock. The review of the concert entitled 'Audience ''sit in'' at Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock Barbican gig' ran the next day and is …

Published: 12 Feb 2021. Updated: 19 days.

A Barbican, London, concert on 6 July 2015. Chick Corea was playing in a two-piano feature with Herbie Hancock. The review of the concert entitled 'Audience ''sit in'' at Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock Barbican gig' ran the next day and is republished in tribute to Chick. RIP

Last time Corea and Hancock toured extensively together before this tour began in March was 37 years ago.

That partnership of the two former Miles Davis players who had experienced great success with their own bands by then separately with Return to Forever and Headhunters drew on a different side of their artistry than jazz-rock fusion or jazz-funk to produce the expansive and intimate albums An Evening with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea in Concert recorded in San Francisco; and later, switching the billing, CoreaHancock.

Coming on to the Barbican stage to a sea of applause, there was a little banter between the two, no tense beginning here. Herbie produced a Miles Davis impression, “You gotta look at the shoes”, he growled with a grin on his face, in his case a shiny smart casual pair, in Chick’s colourful Nike sneakers. Each player had an electronic keyboard by their side in addition to a concert grand and the concert began with not notes from any instrument but a rustle of sheet music from Herbie. “Did you get that, Bernie?” he asked the sound man, as the microphone picked up the sheafing of manuscript, the fanning paper merging with the unceremonious lifting up and banging down hard of the piano lid in a jagged fashion from Corea as if he was using bellows to stoke the fire.

The early part of the concert, there was no interval, it was one continuous set, was quite abstract with imagistic blocks of chordal experimentation and plenty of eye contact between the two. Neither indulged in question-and-response type statements that you sometimes get in overly elaborate two-piano concerts and this was more integrated and all the better for it but hard to read. More about shifting lines and the sharing of darting rhythmical ideas and hardly any riffs let alone beat in the early sections. Before they began the pair asked the audience if we wanted “something” (i.e. something prepared) or “nothing” (free improvisation), and certainly the early part was, as hinted by Herbie, the free improv side.

As the concert progressed there was more prepared material and compositions of their own that both could play in their sleep including some of Herbie’s most familiar and often played classics ‘Cantaloupe Island’ and later ‘Maiden Voyage’ to the applause of recognition from the sold out audience. And there were also some incredible keyboard samples intermingled among the grander piano gestures and tumbles of notes, Corea by now having taken off his light jacket to reveal a white T-shirt with a pink square design on the side, proceeding to trigger clave-like latinate percussion while Herbie conjured post-‘Rockit’-type whoops and chirrups and little boings and surprises from his keyboard rig.

The pair played with dim purply hues as their backdrop in the stage lighting and there was a mellow vibe partly encouraged by this. Some of the best moments were the quieter solo sections from Herbie and the way the pair deftly unpicked the theme from Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. Audience participation in the encore was subtly done with different sections assigned a note to form a big choral effect swelling as Chick and Herbie waved their arms like a conductor, “complex harmonies” Corea commented by way of introduction, and this actually worked well, the audience “sitting in with the duo” as Herbie kindly put it. SG

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Cameron Graves, Seven

The pianist on The Epic, the greatest jazz album of the last decade, Cameron Graves has his own very different thing going down and this is Graves' best record yet. Kamasi Washington pops up best of all for a cameo on the beautiful 'Paradise …

Published: 12 Feb 2021. Updated: 19 days.

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The pianist on The Epic, the greatest jazz album of the last decade, Cameron Graves has his own very different thing going down and this is Graves' best record yet.

Kamasi Washington pops up best of all for a cameo on the beautiful 'Paradise Trinity' and the album has lots of layers. As previously noted there is a brutal but compelling side to 'Sons of Creation'. Raving along with Graves it's probably not the case that hawkish Colin Cook, however, is playing the geetar with his teeth. But I did wonder.

Rumbling bravura is the case especially on 'Red' on this quartet affair, Graves with Cook, bass guitarist Max Gerl and drummer Mike Mitchell. It's mighty that in a week when we mourn the loss of Chick Corea that you can hear the influence of the great one's Return to Forever writ large, the vision an inspiration especially on Graves, and Mitchell for one monstering the groove.

And there's more, note well that the album may bring out the inner jazz Kevin teenage nightmare phase in all of us lurking still even as old geezers. However peel away all the wrappings and there is a velvet core within the tough leather glove. I loved Planetary Prince, Graves' swaggering biggest statement to date released in 2017 with its sunlit baroque dancing quality.

This latest shows a path others like ELEW tried to travel but never knew the geosat code for the direct route. This is even better and Graves even follows in the footsteps of his soul singer father Carl Graves by singing on the track 'Eternal Paradise' in a surprise touch given the earlier tracks, Graves however entering Graham Bonnet mode as Mitchell not so quietly goes berserk behind him. All that's missing for Graves in terms of kit surely on the album is a keytar. For listeners come equipped with a lighter to be held in the air especially on the last track. Gags aside to be deadly serious for a moment Seven is a fine album with lots of original ideas that shows that you don't have to hover quietly as a mouse and go shhh all the time to play jazz. Out next week on Mack Avenue. Cameron Graves photo: Rob Shanahan