Chick Corea & Gary Burton
The New Crystal Silence
As technique determines style, pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton are two peas in an iPod. The sheer fluidity of their playing and the manner in which they anticipate each other’s next move is a thing to behold. Aside from the Mitchell-Ruff Duo, which holds the record for longevity, no pairing has commanded such kindred musicianship as Corea and Burton. In celebration of 35 years together since the recording of their landmark, very first LP Crystal Silence, Concord has done this duo right by releasing a lavishly packaged double-CD recorded live with the Sydney Symphony (disc one) and strictly in duet (disc two).
Masterfully recorded while Corea and Burton were on a 75-concert tour, disc one of The New Crystal Silence covers an all-Corea repertoire of orchestral concerti, actually augmentations of five songs featured on previous, smaller-ensemble albums Duet, Lyric Suite for Sextet, The New Duets and In Concert, Zurich. Because of time constraints, Corea handed over orchestration duties to saxophonist Tim Garland, who succeeds in writing textures and colors for the large ensemble that wrap around the duo like a soft, warm blanket. Never too forceful or overbearing, Garland’s writing tastefully enhances these five beautiful pieces, particularly “Duende” (reminiscent of the Modern Jazz Quartet’s heartfelt interpretations of “Django”), and “Crystal Silence” (with the first seven minutes seemingly floating high above the earth, in total disregard for the constraints of time).
The duo disc is an amazing free-for-all sans the unwavering formats of disc one. Sprite tempi are the rule of the day, even on tunes generally more relaxed, such as “Waltz for Debby” and “Sweet and Lovely.” Craftily manipulating the interpretive techniques available to small-ensemble jazz – including unison passages, solo send-offs, and the trading of fours and eights – Corea and Burton careen through improvisations like twins joined at the hip. Amazing. Just about what you’d expect from two virtuosi with 35 years of practice.
- James Rozzi