Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chick Corea & Gary Burton - 1973 "Crystal Silence"

Crystal Silence is an album by Chick Corea and Gary Burton. It was recorded in November 1972 and produced by Manfred Eicher for ECM Records. Their collaboration went further in 1979 with the albums Duet and In Concert, Zürich, October 28, 1979, also on ECM Records. Nearly 30 years later they followed up again with The New Crystal Silence in 2008, this time on Concord Records.

For Crystal Silence, the first of several partnerships between Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton in the 1970s, the two musicians selected an interesting array of material. The compositions on this record are all modern ones, either by Steve Swallow, Mike Gibbs, or Corea himself. It is a mostly downtempo affair, which allows each player to stretch out and play highly melodic solos over the often difficult changes. In keeping with most ECM releases, there is a distinct presence of European elements to the improvisations. There are few overt blues or bebop phrases, Corea and Burton opting instead for modern melodies to fuel their improvisations. Burton has managed to internalize the Spanish and modal implications of Corea's tunes with little difficulty, and solos with joyful ease through such tracks as "Señor Mouse." Corea himself is absolutely burning. His solo contribution on the same track is both fiery and introspective, combining in one statement the poles for which he is best-known. The title track is also the centerpiece of the album, a nine-minute exploration of the Corea ballad that first appeared on his Return to Forever record in 1972. In keeping with the tradition of the great masters of the ballad form, time seems to disappear as Burton and Corea lovingly caress the song's simple melody and dance effortlessly around the chords, building intensity only to let it subside once more. Crystal Silence is a sublime indication of what two master improvisers can do given quality raw material, with the first side of this record being particularly flawless. Improvised music is rarely this coherent and melodic. Essential for fans of Corea, Burton, or jazz in general.

This is the original killer collaboration between Chick Corea on grand piano and Gary Burton on vibraphone. Chillout music before it was called chillout. Make no mistake though, it's not limp, tame smooth jazz aka muzak. They play a couple of tunes from Chick's originals done by Return To Forever lineup, a couple of Gary's, some co-written, and some written by Chick with then prominent bassist Steve Swallow.

This is an essential album for any serious jazz collection.

While I have had several albums by Chick Corea for over 30 years starting with "Return to Forever", I never heard about this album until Pat Metheny mentioned it in an interview. Remarkably this album was issued the same year as "Return to Forever" (1972) which may be why it never made it to the surface for many of us.

This is a transcendent piece of music. There are many levels of melody created by enormous virtuosity of two musicians feeding off each other in an amazing interplay. The sound is excellent and the recording has plainly been remastered by someone who really knew that they were doing. Played in a dark room with good headphones it takes you places that you want to return to regularly. How I missed it all of these years I don't know but thank you Pat Metheny.

You can't do better in the new age world than 500 Miles High and the title piece. Chick can play Mozart with aplomb, and the techniques of improv on the 25th piano concerto are echoes here in post-classical harmonies and an occasional 12-tone scale. The album is a classic of its genre.

I could never say enough about this CD. When it first came out, it was never off my turntable. The songs are great... top notch Chick Corea originals. And as far as I know there has never been a piano/vibes duo that played so well together. Sometimes it almost feels like it's one instrument. Corea and Burton are just the best in the business. This might very well be in my all time greatest jazz albums list. Buy it!

I was very much surprised, to say the least, when I discovered, that this work-of-art was available, through Amamzon, and I decided, that I had to have it. I first this on vinyl, close to 31 years ago. I was already facinated, the sounds of Chick Corea, and coupled with the expertise "Vibe virtuoso," Gary Burton, I was completely sold. If you enjoy listening to the sounds of jazz/fusion music, then this CD, should be in your collection! Thank you Chick & Gary!

I was fortunate enough, many years ago to be in NYC during the Jazz festival time. We had tickets one night to a show featuring the Woody Herman Big Band, then Chick Corea with the MusicMagic line-up. Anyway, there was an hour delay in setting up Chick after Woody that had an unbelievable resolution. Gary Burton was there, and he & Chick played basically the entire Crystal Silence album on stage while they set-up Chick Corea's band.

This is an unbeleivable album, probably one of my top five all time albums of any genre. It's also an amazing album for any aspiring drumkit player to practice with.

Track listing

    "Señor Mouse" (Chick Corea) - 6:20
    "Arise, Her Eyes" (Steve Swallow) - 5:08
    "I'm Your Pal" (Steve Swallow) - 4:02
    "Desert Air" (Chick Corea) - 6:26
    "Crystal Silence" (Chick Corea) - 9:05
    "Falling Grace" (Steve Swallow) - 2:42
    "Feelings And Things" (Mike Gibbs) - 4:46
    "Children's Song" (Chick Corea) - 2:11
    "What Game Shall We Play Today" (Chick Corea) - 3:46


    Chick Corea – piano
    Gary Burton – vibraphone 



  2. Very true. I had this on vinyl since 1974 or so and wore out that copy. Maybe it helped me survive those years when such sounds were rare and it was like an oasis of brilliance in a sonic desert world.

  3. Thanks again!