Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chick Corea Elektric Band - 1987 "Light Years"

Light Years is a 1987 Album by the Chick Corea Elektric Band. It features Chick Corea with guitarist Frank Gambale, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, drummer Dave Weckl and bassist John Patitucci. Also guitarist Carlos Rios plays on some tracks. The album was nominated and received the 1988 Grammy Award for the Best R&B Instrumental Performance (orchestra,group or soloist).

 The second recording by Chick Corea's Elektric Band was the first to feature altoist Eric Marienthal and guitarist Frank Gambale in addition to bassist John Patitucci, drummer Dave Weckl and the leader/keyboardist. Unlike most other fusion groups, these musicians displayed original musical personalitites and Corea's compositions tended to be memorable. This is one of The Elektric Band's better releases.

With the classic Elektric Band lineup in place — Chick, Eric Marienthal (saxophone), Frank Gambale (guitar), John Patitucci (bass) and Dave Weckl (drums) — Chick created a masterpiece of electric jazz: powerful, swinging grooves, passionate solos and virtuosic group interplay throughout. It was a defining moment in jazz, and Light Years is a high-water mark.

Chick seems to enjoy exploring. With these players he has the perfect ensemble to do that. I get the feeling that he wraps his head around a sound or feel that he wants and just goes after it. Each album seems to point in a different direction with each track taking us further out there. Sometimes we don't know where we are going but it is sure a fun ride. I don't know if he's exploring techno or what on this one but there is so much subtle stuff going around a huge, fat beat that it's hard not to play it over wondering what you just heard. You definitely have to have a good sound system to listen to this; otherwise you miss it, like taking a scenic highway with dirty windows.

My guess is that you have probably never heard of this band, unless you are specifically looking for it, and that much I guess is unlikely. So, to describe this band I will list some bands that you may have heard of that remind me of the material on this work; those would be Liquid Trio Experiment, Bill Frisell, and John Scofield. If you can dig stuff from those artists, I highly recommend this album. One thing I will say is that you are most certainly not guaranteed to like this album from Chick and crew if you like his band Return to Forever.
By now having listened to this album in the mix for a few years, I definitely give it a thumbs up. Every track is worth many, many listens.
I guess though is that this music is music for musicians, and pretty much musicians only will buy this album, and most us are poor, so I can't imagine this album sold many copies. Chances are you will only be able to find this album on your computer, such as a used album from, but not at a record store. These days even record stores sometimes won't carry something this rare. That is a shame, because this is really good music.
Another way I might describe this as 1980s jazz. The musicianship is great, but the electronics aren't quite that great, and after albums like this one flopped, I can definitely understand the move to return to more of an analogue sound, such as a Hammond B3 organ. So, the hard part of this album to sell is that it is electric, and uses cheesy synthesizers from start to finish. I do believe that was Chick's aim; to explore new technology and to marry it with jazz. I believe that Chick did an excellent job of that on this album. The music on this album is great and timeless for those that love music, but someone who is interested in sound quality may turn his or her nose up at this one.

Track listing

1.    "Light Years" – 3:51
2.    "Second Sight" – 4:12
3.    "Flamingo" – 4:08
4.    "Prism" – 3:29
5.    "Time Track" – 5:02
6.    "Starlight" – 3:51
7.    "Your Eyes" – 3:56
8.    "The Dragon" – 5:31
9.    "View from the Outside" – 6:33
10.   "Smokescreen" – 4:24
11.   "Hymn of the Heart" – 6:40
12.   "Kaleidoscope" – 8:03

Tracks 10-12 are omitted from the original release and appear only on CD reissues.

Line-up / Musicians

- Chick Corea / Keyboards
- Frank Gambale / Guitars
- John Patitucci / Bass
- Eric Marienthal / Saxophone
- Dave Weckl / Drums



  2. Wonderful album! One of my all-time favorites