Chick Corea: Trio Music (ECM 1232/33)

ECM 1232_33

Chick Corea
Trio Music

Chick Corea piano
Miroslav Vitous bass
Roy Haynes drums
Recorded November 1981 at Mad Hatter Studios, Los Angeles
Engineer: Bernie Kirsh
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Trio Music boasts the same formidable lineup—pianist Chick Corea, bassist Miroslav Vitous, and drummer Roy Haynes—as on the seminal Now He Sings, Now He Sobs. Yet formidable is not a word I would use to describe this curious double album, for as many peaks as there are, it is in the valleys where the most potent combinations occur. Half of this diptych is painted by improvisations: five for trio and two for duo. The trios are intense and from the first chart themselves through engaging, if wayward, territory via Haynes’s astute “cymbalism” and Vitous’s determined phonics, all the while enlivened by Corea’s full-on sound. From the thick to the thin of things, the second trio sounds like an infirmed train dreaming in spats of its onetime locomotive glory, while even more fractured affairs await us on the horizon of the third. Some of the more effective comings together can be found on the fourth, as when pointillist pianism sews itself into snare with lightning-fast kinship. The final trio, on the other hand, features a looser, perhaps prepared, piano and amplified arco bass and drums, which after a bit of running around are mixed together in a staccato brew. The two duets between Corea and Vitous are fascinating in and of themselves, winding down their personal rabbit holes with multifarious conviction. The last tune of first disc, “Slippery When Wet,” is exactly that, this one penned by Corea. After some lithe snare work it slides effortlessly into an upbeat swing.

For the second disc, we are treated to a hunk of Monk. Thelonious lives and breathes (he would pass away not three months after this album was recorded) in these hip arrangements. And certainly in “Rhythm-A-Ning” we get to see what this trio is truly capable of, for as intriguing as the improvisations are, there is something transcendent about the ring of their swing in Monk’s world. From these hot threads is spun a lasso that holds our attention with excitement and joy. Haynes, reason enough to buy this album, steals the show here, as also in the ascending quality of “Think Of One” and throughout the inescapable groove of “Hackensack.” Not to be outdone, however, are Vitous, who adds piles of jazz club beauty to “Eronel” and enhances every playful step of “Little Rootie Tootie” with his nimble fingerwork, and the unforgettable Corea, who, as he does in each of these, spreads his warmth and sparkle in turn over the gently burned toast of “’Round Midnight” and “Reflections” with a lushness all his own.

One need hardly expound at such length upon this album. The music speaks with far more eloquence. Highly recommend for the lovely Monk set alone, but give the improvisations a chance, and you will surely find a wealth of colors to explore again and again.

<< Eberhard Weber: Later That Evening (ECM 1231)
>> Everyman Band: s/t (ECM 1234)

One thought on “Chick Corea: Trio Music (ECM 1232/33)

  1. So good I bought the vinyl and the CD formats. Without wishing to detract in any way from ECM’s premier songbook trio (Jarrett/Peacock/DeJohnette), Corea/Haynes/Vitous are much more adventurous on the freely improvised tracks. (Compare with ‘Inside Out’, in which the blues is intentionally exploited to stabilise the ‘freedom’.)

    Since the Lennie Tristano group experimented with atonality in the late 1940s, the genre has grown sideways. Corea, Haynes & Vitous build on Tristano’s pioneering ideas and propel the project forwards.

    The Monk tracks are delicious. ‘Eronel’ stands out for me. One must also acknowledge the great Haynes. Difficult to believe he once earned his bread dropping bombs alongside ‘Bird’.

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