Friday, December 22, 2017

Chick Corea - 1968 [2002] "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs"

Now He Sings, Now He Sobs is a jazz piano trio album by Chick Corea, released December 1968 on Solid State Records. In more recent times, it was acquired by EMI/Blue Note and reissued on CD with bonus tracks. The musicians on this album are Corea (piano), Miroslav Vitouš (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums). Aside from the jazz standard "My One and Only Love" and Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica", all tracks are original compositions (with some being non-composed free improvisations, such as "The Law of Falling and Catching Up" or "Fragments"). The same line-up recorded on ECM Records in 1981 Trio Music and in 1986 Trio Music, Live in Europe.

Now He Sings, Now He Sobs is among the greatest piano trio albums ever released. Recorded in 1968, the record firmly established Chick as a pianist and composer with a unique vision, one that floated free of traditional genre distinctions and conventions, into new and thrilling territory. With veteran drummer Roy Haynes and brilliant bassist Miroslav Vitous, Chick creates a new language of his own, instantly recognizable from the first, classic cymbal flourish and piano run of “Matrix.” The trio is locked in, totally attuned to each other, and operating at a tremendous level. This is jazz of the highest order.

Corea had been paying his dues for over half a decade, developing great affinity for Afro-Cuban Jazz while working with Mongo Santamaria, and Sonny Stitt among others, composed, arranged and in the process greatly incrementing the dimension of albums such as Blue Mitchell’s “Boss Horn”, seen his compositions recorded by the likes of Hubert Laws, Donald Byrd or by his for a while boss Stan Getz and even released his 1st album as a leader – which was given the title of one of those songs from the Mitchell’ album-, an album where he used a band format to work on his songs;
           he’d been enchanting all those who contacted his music, with his talent, vitality, virtuosity and a new perspective in composing and making the pieces unfold; this perspective had points in common with Coltrane’s open 4tet explorations and in particular with McCoy Tyner’s style, but Corea’s vision eventually included some other stylistic appendices; this album displays several ways of reformulating those concepts while working on  a platform  he hadn’t tested yet and at the end of the day was the beginning of a long lasting and productive trio friendship.

If Corea is adventurous his partners never let him down either: 6 years his junior, Miroslav Vitous the 20 years old Czech bass player is all but conventional, accompanies with intricate and meandering restlessly walking or running lines and his explorative solos as on “Matrix” or even better on the pair of “Now He…” , are the epitome of creative abandon; as for the some 15 years his senior Roy Haynes, his vast experience brought him all but stiffness, as boldly and flexibly he either keeps the beat with unrelenting ride cymbal drive and sporadic, unexpected,  sensitive and perfectly timed inspired rolls or he jumps up front to argument on the meaning of the piece.

Consisting of only five tracks the album is launched at breakneck velocity with Hard-bop virtuosity by the almost 14 minutes long tour-de-force “Steps-What Was”; on the 2nd part after a drum solo, Corea flirts with fragments of and delineates what “Spain” would become, both with overtly similar melodies and in a preview of its harmonic and rhythmic complexity; on the title track the pianist alternatively  conveys joy and pain with open and glad major intervals or with closed, altered minor  and weeping chords; his control of the shades of harmony is incremented with impressionistic Classical instincts on “Now He Beats…” either conveying aggressiveness  or lyricism, before Vitous and Haynes enter midway through the 10 minutes-plus piece and without interfering with the pianist’s shifting states-of-mind, and turning abstraction into organic pulsations install a communal vision which allows them to alter the mood or at the snap of a finger  revert to it;

“The Law of Falling…” are 2 ½ minutes of avant-garde, Musique Concrète, knocking and hammering on piano and bass strings and on the instruments wood proper, sweeping chimes, brisk pizzicato runs and drum rolls, a brief and in no way painful glimpse at still other alternative routes, yet what’s impressive, and if not enlightening definitely stupefying, is  how an album where  only one theme - “Matrix” with its Tyner-esque Hard-Bop adventures -, was rehearsed in a conventional manner, yielded such a bountiful crop of land marking and earmarking case-study material, admittedly mostly spontaneously created by improvising atop and around mere sketches.
This mix of mechanical empathy and creative impetus famously impressed Miles, who a couple of months later would use Corea’s piano talent for the 1st of his participations on “Kilimanjaro”

“Now He Sings…” with Bonus Tracks
…To increment amazement levels  on all of us common mortals, the rest of the pieces recorded during the 3 dates that the sessions for the album lasted ,and which had not been used, have been added as bonus tracks on the CD reissue: from the Oriental tainted and flutteringly Boppish “Samba Yantra”, and the elliptic Bossa with purposely understated but nevertheless solid time-keeping of “Bossa”, to the controlled explosion of 20th Century Classical and Avant-Garde instincts on  “Fragments”, and the modulations on a succession of opening and closing frames on the beautiful and uplifting “Windows”, past the 2 parted improvisational experiment for piano and bass of “Gemini” and up to a new found virtuosity without loosing the sentiment on a take on Monk’s “Pannonica” and a quasi-dysfunctional  but consistently effective love statement on “My One and Only Love”, this is almost a doubling of the pleasure….

In 1999, the single "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" was given the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

Track listing:

01 Steps-What Was (13:50)
02 Matrix (6:28)
03 Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (7:03)
04 Now He Beats The Drum-Now He Stops (10:35)
05 The Law Of Falling And Catching Up (2:28)
06 Samba Yantra (2:41)
07 Bossa (4:45)
08 I Don't Know (2:43)
09 Fragments (4:04)
10 Windows (3:12)
11 Gemini (4:24)
12 Pannonica (3:00)
13 My One And Only Love (3:34)


Chick Corea – Piano
Roy Haynes – Drums
Miroslav Vitous – Bass



  2. thx for chick!
    Greetz from Germany :)

  3. Hey Crimhead! Great album! There's a bunch of new posts at I think you might be into - lots of jazz/funk/fusion from the 70s-80s already posted there.

  4. can't believe I've never heard this one... thank you!