Chick Corea & Béla Fleck
An album of piano/banjo duos might not initially seem like the most logical project, but Chick Corea and Béla Fleck are in fact highly complementary musical spirits. Each man uses relentless displays of virtuosity to suck all the fun out of music, and neither Fleck’s Ken Burns-esque hairstyle nor Corea’s Scientology beliefs inspire enough laughs to tip the balance back.
Sure, there are some moments of relative levity here, but for the most part, it’s two poker-faced masters of their instruments tapping and plucking away for 54 minutes and change, sometimes following concurrent paths but more often wandering afield of each other.
Another drawback to The Enchantment is its strict “two instruments only” formatting – the utter lack of guest stars makes it very difficult to tell one track from the next, never mind livening up matters with, say, a kazoo or washboard solo. Except for the weird and honestly quite beautiful take on the old standard “Brazil,” that is.
That track is a genuine standout. Corea plays the melody line and embellishes it organically, while Fleck hovers in the background like some kind of tiny robot hummingbird, only briefly taking the lead role himself. That’s followed by the title track, though, which brings us back to the pattern of simultaneous monologues, punctuated by cursory acknowledgement by each player that there’s another musician in the room.
- Phil Freeman