Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chick Corea Elektric Band 1988 [1994] "Eye Of The Beholder"

Eye of the Beholder is a 1988 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.

During an era when the word "fusion" was applied to any mixture of jazz with pop or funk, Chick Corea's Elektric Band reinforced the word's original meaning: a combination of jazz improvisations with the power, rhythms and sound of rock. Eye of the Beholder, which found guitarist Frank Gambale, saxophonist Eric Marienthal and bassist John Patitucci displaying increasingly original solo voices, is one of this group's finest recordings and ranks with the best fusion of the latter half of the 1980s. 

After a highly impressive debut album and a stylistically simpler sophomore release, the Chick Corea Elektric Band proceeded to produce an album that was musically more advanced than anything they had accomplished before. The result, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, is arguably the best record the band produced in their seven-year existence. With saxophonist Eric Marienthal and guitarist Frank Gambale on board to enhance the core trio of Corea, Dave Weckl (drums) and John Patitucci (bass), EYE is the perfect balance of the group's stunning technical chops, musical artistry and technological wizardry.

The most obvious difference on this record is the incorporation of more natural, acoustic sounds into the "electric" format. Corea's use of acoustic piano (enhanced by synthesizers), Weckl's natural drum and percussion sounds, Marienthal's sax and even Gambale's use of some acoustic guitar lend a much warmer vibe to EYE than previous efforts. What's more, many compositions, including "Home Universe," "Eternal Child," "Beauty" and "Ezinda" have a very chamber-ensemble feel with many varied textures and dynamics. Finally, the title track is a spectacular Spanish-flavored barnburner in the style of Corea's "Spain" that showcases each member's strengths to the fullest.


“Eye of the Beholder” - An appropriate title for a work that that may not appeal to all, but for those who can see past the surface and identify with Chick Corea's unique sound and creative genius, this is an absolute gem.

The third release of the Electrik Band, the album follows the original self-titled "Electrik Band" and "Light Years". One notes a clear departure from the original hard electric fusion of the first record to a more acoustic sound, a trend that continued with the release of the band's fourth album - "Inside Out".
In my opinion, "Eye of the Beholder" was undoubtedly the height of the Electric Band's existence.
The impressive thing about some of the Electric Band's earlier work is how the absolute best can be brought out of uncomplicated compositions, simply by great musicianship and improvisation. I am not a student of music, so the technical terms elude me, but my perception is that most of these works use a basic core, which gets repeated several times with small, but perceivable changes on each cycle. It is a slow but deliberate build up to the ultimate climax. I wonder if the term “Stretch” Corea used in the naming of his record company refers to this concept?

"Eye of the Beholder” is no different in this regard, but the compositions are meatier than the earlier releases. Each track has an originality of its own and takes the listener on an emotional excursion.

Of the Electrik Band releases, this record is the most timeless and sounds as good today as when I purchased it in 1991.
It is an absolute must for any respectable Fusion collection. 

I am a musician and a HUGE fan of the Elektric Band. I must say, this album has probably shaped my keyboard styles more than any other. My brother is a drummer and used to have these tapes, when he was away I would sneak in his bag and listen to his tapes (remember those!); this album blew my mind, it was unlike anything I'd ever heard. Once I got into jazz I found out where Chick draws his style from, and about the Elektric Band concept, this album stands out among the series as the most epic; to this day it contains some of the most beautiful and intricately woven counter-melodies and harmonies that I've heard, and to think: the first time I heard this album I wasn't even a teenager yet, and it was over 12 years ago. No pianist alive today matches Chick's unique combination of skill, technique, artistry, and overall musicality, and this album shines. I love all of the E. Band albums, but this one stands out because of its overall 'acoustic' feel and intertwined themes. Listen to the album straight through, and you'll hear recurring passages and themes throughout - and it will make you smile.
This album is a must have, for any fan of Chick Corea.

If you are looking for great synth sounds from the 80's, great compositions, and the best musicians, "Eye of the Beholder" won't dissapoint you. It has the well known progressive jazz of Chick Corea along with his friends: John Patitucci (basses), Dave Weckl (drums and percussion), Eric Marienthal (sax), Frank Gambale (guitar).
"Home Universe", the first song, starts with great percussion and "strings" in a march-like rhythm full of mystery. "Eternal Child" is a beautiful ballad in piano. "Cascade" has an intro which uses a synth sound that makes you feel as if you were in front of a cascade.
The album is an excellent recording with great mixing by Bernie Kirsh and Chick Corea.
Personally, this is my favorite album by Chick and his band. I have never lost the sense of satisfaction I feel each time I listen to the album. I highly recommend it, especially to Chick fans. 

Wow...I can't believe anyone would say this release was anything but perfect. This CD is what turned me on to jazz in the first place...I was 16 and a metal head at the time. Here it is, about 15 years later, and I still listen to this CD constantly. The actual music is beautiful, the transitions are genius, and the musicians...well, in my opinion there couldn't have been a better blend of members. This album completely changed me as a musician.

Track listing:

01. Home Universe (2:44)
02. Eternal Child (4:52)
03. Forgotten Past (2:58)
04. Passage (4:56)
05. Beauty (7:56)
06. Cascade, Pt. 1 (1:54)
07. Cascade, Pt. 2 (5:19)
08. Trance Dance (5:50)
09. Eye of the Beholder (6:39)
10. Ezinda (6:54)
11. Amnesia (3:28)

Vinyl Version has only tracks 1-9 (GRP-A-91053)

Personnel:

    Chick Corea – synthesizer, piano, arranger, keyboards, producer, engineer, liner notes, mixing
    Frank Gambale – guitar
    Eric Marienthal – saxophone
    John Novello – synthesizer (track 2 only)
    John Patitucci – bass
    Dave Weckl – drums

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