Chick Corea: Voyage (ECM 1282)

Chick Corea

Chick Corea piano
Steve Kujala flute
Recorded July 1984 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Steve Kujala is a flutist of exceptional ability known for his “bending” and other extended techniques, which immediately distinguish his sound from anyone else’s. After touring with Chick Corea in the early eighties, the two of them stepped into the studio to record Voyage, a shuffled yet modest deck of three Corea originals and two freely improvised interludes. Though a suitable companion to Red Lanta, this duo session could hardly be more different. As musicians both well versed in the avant-garde, Kujala and Corea forge an undeniably cerebral brand of magic. The lushness of “Mallorca,” for example might easily blind us to the microscopic approach of “Star Island,” for where the former dances like some ethereal Flamenco reflection, threaded by birdsong and fast-forwarded tongue fluttering, the latter is a piano solo that indeed takes form like a dollop of land in an oceanic expanse. It is also the deeply beating heart of the album, a stunning piece of wizardry that could easily run its entire course without ever growing fatigued. Corea continues this subdued brilliance in his intro to “Free Fall” before Kujala makes his theatrical entrance, singing to us of days and years gone by. This is much in contrast to “Diversions,” a far more abstract intertwining of airy improvisations which, even after their rousing finish, leave us scrambling for narrative traction. “Hong Kong” is also very abstract, but by way of its title at least gives us a place to hold on to. Like that city’s bustling streets, connections come and go as they please, sometimes utterly unaware of one another in the constant blur of lights, faces, and smells.

This is a highlight in the Corea discography on any label and an ideal opportunity to discover, as I did, a flutist of outstanding innovation along the way.

<< Michael Fahres: piano. harfe (ECM 1281 NS)
>> Paul Motian Trio: it should’ve happened a long time ago (ECM 1283)

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