Saturday, May 7, 2016

Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Joe Henderson, Lenny White - 1982 "A Very Special Concert"

This concert features Chick Corea playing with members of the "Return to Forever" band, which includes the legendary players Stanley Clarke on bass, the much celebrated Lenny White on drums plus the multi-GRAMMY® winner Joe Henderson on tenor sax. Songs include "L#s Bop," "Why Wait," "500 Miles High," "Guernica." Chick Corea#s four-decade career is the stuff of jazz legend, a blend of influential, limit-breaking musical experiences which have filled pages of 20th century music history encyclopedias. Jazz has never been the same since the birth of the samba-flavored ensemble of Return to Forever.

Lenny White's introduction of his bandmates as 'The World's Greatest Musicians' is no exaggeration - this music performance is indeed special, and as the previous reviewer mentioned is a perfect place for newcomers to begin exploring modern acoustic jazz. [there is also another, separate DVD available - released four years ago - of Corea playing acoustic music: "Chick Corea & Friends: Remembering Bud Powell" (live 1996).]

This concert was video taped at Wolf & Rissmiller's Country Club in Reseda, California [not Tokyo, Japan as the previous review states] in 1982.

as mentioned in the other review, this DVD video focuses on Return To Forever music and musicians - but without electric instruments. The Chick Corea/Stanley Clarke/Lenny White section reunites from early-mid '70s album classics such as Stanley Clarke's "Children Of Forever" and RTF's "Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy".

Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson had worked with each of these musicians in various jazz contexts for many years before this 1982 reunion. Clarke and White had appeared on Henderson's own 1970-71 Milestone label albums "In Pursuit Of Blackness" and "If You're Not Part Of The Solution, You're Part Of The Problem" (memorably with Lenny White and trumpeter Woody Shaw on a smoking Sept. 1970 live at The Lighthouse session). White and Henderson also famously appeared together on Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay" [CTI label, 1970] album. Corea and Henderson had worked together on recordings such as "Mirror, Mirror" [MPS label 1980, w/Ron Carter and Billy Higgins], "Relaxin' At Camarillo" [Contemporary label 1979, w/Peter Erskine and Tony Williams], and a great 1981 set "Live In Montreux" [Corea's own Stretch label, w/Gary Peacock and Roy Haynes].

Henderson is prominently featured on three of the tracks (he sits out for the trio to perform Corea's '500 Miles High'), giving a beautiful glimpse of his blues-inflected playing on Clarke's composition 'Why Wait', extended improvisation on 'Guernica' (Clarke - bowed bass), and his tour-de-force technique on the swift opener 'L's Bop' (which Lenny White - who co-produced the audio on this recording - closes with a bravura drum solo). Each musician is joyfully sensitive and alert to one another throughout the set; a display of jazz improvisational magic at its finest.

 The Corea/Clarke/Henderson/White lineup was being billed at the time as 'Echoes Of An Era', and the Musician label released a few LPs of this group featuring: Freddie Hubbard, trumpet, and Chaka Khan, vocal on one, Nancy Wilson, vocal [sans Hubbard and Khan] on another, and a third called "The Griffith Park Collection" [slyly announced by Chick in this video as their current release]. Three (or possibly four?) cameras were employed; audio was done as a digital, two-track live recording. Legon also explains those funky, casual threads worn by the musicians: an airport snow delay and their last-minute arrival to the gig.

Before the CHICK COREA AKOUSTIC BAND, Chick Corea was writing and performing acoustic music. To my knowledge this is the first concert of Chick Corea playing acoustic music on DVD. This quartet is particularly impressive seeing that it has 3/4 of the Corea led Return To Forever. RTF did perform acoustic music but this group is closer to jazz/bebop than RTF ever was. Chick Corea is joined by RTF veterans Lenny White on Drums and Stanley Clarke on bass as well as Joe Henderson on Tenor Saxophone. The result is a set of acoustic jazz that is, at times, amazing and always engaging.
The show is only about an hour long, but what an hour it is. Joe Henderson is a very good tenor sax player and is impressive at times on this disc. Lenny White shows that he can play drums in a non-electric setting. Lenny is solid throughout but doesn't do anything mind boggling like Dave Weckl does on the Akoustic Band CDs. Chick Corea shows why he is THE keyboard virtuoso/composer of the last 30 years. Stanley Clarke is Stanley Clarke. If you have never heard/seen Stanley play the acoustic bass then you are going to be blown away. The interplay between himself and Corea or White is amazing. Stanley Clarke knows how to link the melody and rhythm together and when he solos, look out. At long last, a chance to see Stanley on DVD.
The DVD is one set from the band, captured live in California in 1982. The music sounds as if the Akoustic band hired a Saxophone player to join them. The tunes are very similar to the Akoustic band in tonality/style although the saxophone adds a new dimension. The set includes only 4 songs so you know that it is heavy on improvisation. This is post-bop jazz. The band, as a whole, soars and Chick and Stanley are amazing. All of the songs are bop-influened. They also contain elements of othere jazz influences, most notably Chick Corea's '500 Miles High'. '500 Miles High' is the highlight for me. Henderson sits this song out and the trio performs another latin influeced Corea composition. The magic of RTF is revisited as all 3 are given space to do their thing. The interplay picks up from where Romantic Warrior left off. During this piece Stanley Clarke takes upright bass playing to unparalled heights. The Coltranesque technique that he plays on electric is unleashed on acoustic. Nobody plays upright like Stanley.
In conclusion, if you are familiar with Chick Corea's impressive acoustic catalog and you like what you've heard; then you'll also like this. IF you are a fusion fan and haven't yet begun to listen to bebop or straight jazz then this would be a good place to start. It has all of the elements that make acoustic jazz what it is.

Recorded live at Wolf & Rissmiller's Country Club, Reseda, California, 7 April 1982.
Playing time: 56.22 min.

Courtesy: Original uploader 

Tracklist

1. L's Bop – Lenny White
2. Why Wait – Stanley Clarke
3. 500 Miles High – Chick Corea
4. Guernica – Lenny White

Personnel:

Chick Corea - Keyboard
Stanley Clarke - Bass
Joe Henderson - Tenor Sax
Lenny White - Drums

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