Sunday, August 23, 2015

Chick Corea-Miroslav Vitous - 1968 1972 [1999] "Tones for Joan's Bones" - "Mountain in the Clouds"

This compilation hits a bull's-eye by pulling together two key sessions: Chick Corea's first as a leader, a blazing, advanced hard bop set from 1966, and Miroslav Vitous' Mountain in the Clouds, recorded in 1969 just prior to the bassist joining the original Weather Report. Corea's writing on Tones for Joan's Bones has an affinity with McCoy Tyner's seminal hard bop structures from this period. Tenor player Joe Farrell and trumpeter Woody Shaw are ideal for this music. They deliver virtuoso performances that are both visceral and cerebral. Steve Swallow, while later focusing exclusively on electric bass, often with a melodic, impressionistic approach, is pure thunder here. In a blindfold test his acoustic bass could be mistaken for Buster Williams'. Drummer Joe Chambers is all relentless, propulsive energy, but subtle too. Corea is a torrent of harmonic and melodic imagination, couched in unerring rhythm. On Vitous' fusion classic, Herbie Hancock's electric piano and John McLaughlin's electric guitar merge in a rich, dense, colorful foundation that affords Vitous and drummer Jack DeJohnette considerable freedom. McLaughlin combines the dreamy state he evokes on Miles Davis' In a Silent Way with the juddering rhythm attack heard on his own Extrapolation. Like Chambers, who actually takes the drum chair for two tracks, DeJohnette is powerful, creative, and passionate. The superbly recorded Vitous has a sound, technique, and concept that consistently sustain interest. Tenor giant Joe Henderson is on four tracks, including an intense, open-ended exploration of Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance." Anybody with an interest in this vital and exciting period will find both of these sessions indispensable. 

Both albums are a pinnacle of achievement for Chick Corea and Miroslav Vitous. They foreshadow the direction of both artists and also reflect their influences. "Tones For Joan's Bones" is straight ahead Jazz combined with occasional Latin rhythms, outrageous melodies typical of the period and style, Chick Corea's "Tyneresque" piano voicings and fluid, crystal clear solos. This is all augmented by Joe Farrell on reeds and Woody Shaw on trumpet-two of the best. Check out Chick Corea's solo on "Tones For Joan's Bones". Other recordings from this period featuring these artists are available on Chick Corea's "Inner Space" album.
The compositions and musicians on Miroslav Vitous' "Mountain In The Clouds" are some of the most progressive and innovative ever recorded. The moods range from quiet, cerebral, and transcendental as in "Epilogue" and "Infinite Search", to unrelenting, up-tempo jams as in "Freedom Jazz Dance" and especially "I Will Tell Him On You". The latter featuring one of the best, most astonishing guitar solos by John McLaughlin, very much like his work on Tony Williams' "Emergency" cd. The rest of the musicians on the album are basically a "who's who" in the business: Joe Henderson on sax, Herbie Hancock on piano, Miroslav on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums all add their unique personalities to a timeless classic.  


Track Listings
1. Litha - Chick Corea
2. This Is New - Chick Corea
3. Tones For Joan's Bones - Chick Corea
4. Straight Up And Down - Chick Corea
5. Freedom Jazz Dance - Miroslav Vitous
6. Mountain In The Clouds - Miroslav Vitous
7. Epilogue - Miroslav Vitous
8. Cerecka - Miroslav Vitous
9. Infinite Search - Miroslav Vitous
10. I Will Tell Him On You - Miroslav Vitous


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