Chick Corea’s Akoustic Band is Back! Trio Dazzles in St. Petersburg Concert

chick trio new

“This is a rehearsal,” Chick Corea said Saturday night, before launching into the second of two performances in what he called a “homespun” affair.

Meaning: His relaunch of the Akoustic Band, 20 years or so after he, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Dave Weckl last played together unplugged, was unusually low key. No NYC Blue Note run this time. Minimal publicity.

Instead, the trio simply offered a pair of dazzling sets at the unassuming St. Petersburg College Music Center, something of a left-field choice for a major Tampa Bay area concert.

The intimate, 310-seat theater was near enough to the home of the celebrated 76-year-old pianist, composer and bandleader that he could sleep in his own bed that night. And there was solid family-and-friends support, as Corea’s wife, singer Gayle Moran, daughter Liana (also a pianist), and longtime recording-engineer associate Bernie Kirsh, were in the house.

chick trio

It was all preceded by just one day — 7 or 8 hours, Patitucci told me Saturday morning — of rehearsals, on Friday at Chick’s studio.

“If we screw up, we’re gonna stop and play it again,” Corea added. Why? Because the shows were recorded for potential release on a live album, meant to be available in time for the band’s summer tours of Europe and Australia.

Indeed, they did stop and re-do a few endings. But that didn’t disappoint the overtly supportive audience packed with musicians; the trio got a standing ovation before playing even a single note.

The three, maintaining constant eye contact with one another and seemingly having a blast despite dealing with multiple quite tricky passages, offered a mix of old and new Corea compositions along with fresh arrangements of standards.

Opener “On Green Dolphin Street” began with an unaccompanied piano solo, while the band effectively amped up the quirky accents and stops on a gently swinging “Monk’s Mood.” An inventive take on “You and the Night and the Music” that had Patitucci bowing some lines on the sort-of coda.

“It’s basically a piano piece (rearranged for trio),” Corea said about his seldom-played “Continuance,” featuring long classical lines sometimes completed or doubled by Patitucci and, later, some herky-jerky swing.

Also from the leader’s bottomless well of original compositions: “Eternal Child,” recorded by Corea’s Elektric Band, which also includes Patitucci and Weckl, and the bouncy, leapfrogging “Humpty Dumpty,” first released 40 years ago — believe it or not — on Corea’s “The Mad Hatter.” For the latter, called “kind of a jam tune” by Corea, he at one point created a sound effect by reaching into the piano case and scraping the strings, and the wizardly Weckle provided another explosive, creative solo.

Throughout, Patitucci again demonstrated the beauty and genius of his whole-bass approach to playing, delighting listeners with solos built on virtuoso runs as well as melodic bits, including, on “Eternal Child,” a quick quote of “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise.”

Chick and Gayle

For the encore, Moran joined the group on the samba-driven “You’re Everything,” from Return to Forever’s revered 1973 “Light as a Feather” album. At one point, the unusually challenging melody line — originally sung by Flora Purim — had Moran briefly stopping and shouting, “These are impossible lines to sing!” She nevertheless hit most of the marks, and impressed with clear, powerful vocals. Call it a near-perfect finale.









Give the Bass Player Some: Ron Carter & Esperanza Spalding Top 77th Annual DownBeat Readers Poll

Veteran bassist Ron Carter and young bassist-singer Esperanza Spalding, a Grammy-winning star, grabbed the top spots in this year’s DownBeat Readers Poll.

Carter, an enormously influential double bass master heard on thousands of jazz recordings, a successful solo artist but probably best known for his association with Miles Davis’s second great quintet in the ’60s, was ushered into the Hall of Fame, just beating blues legend B.B. King.

Spalding, a gifted vocalist, upright and electric bassist, and songwriter who has wowed audiences as a leader and as a member of Joe Lovano’s US FIVE band (#14 in the Jazz Group category), won in the categories of Jazz Artist and Jazz Album of the Year, the latter for her pop-infused “Radio Music Society.”

Interestingly, neither won in the two bass categories: Christian McBride won for (double) Bass, while Stanley Clarke, who rode Return to Forever to stardom, won for Electric Bass.

Wayne Shorter, Carter’s old colleague in that Miles band, won in two categories — Soprano Saxophone, and Composer

The more than 17,000 voters in the poll, somewhat surprisingly, honored the Dave Brubeck Quartet in the Jazz Group category, and Big Band honors went to the Maria Schneider Orchestra, whose leader also won for Arranger.

(Complete list of winners)

Other honorees:

  • Trumpet: Wynton Marsalis
  • Trombone: Trombone Shorty
  • Alto Saxophone: Kenny Garrett
  • Tenor Saxophone: Sonny Rollins
  • Baritone Saxophone: James Carter
  • Clarinet: Anat Cohen
  • Flute: Hubert Laws
  • Piano: Brad Mehldau
  • Keyboard: Herbie Hancock
  • Organ: Joey DeFrancesco
  • Guitar: Pat Metheny
  •  Violin: Regina Carter
  • Drums: Jack DeJohnette
  • Vibes: Gary Burton
  • Percussion: Airto Moreira
  • Miscellaneous Instrument: Toots Thielemans
  • Female Vocalist: Diana Krall
  • Record label: Blue Note
  • Blues Artist or Group: B.B. King
  • Blues Album: Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton, “Play the Blues: Live From Jazz at Lincoln Center”
  • Beyond Artist or Group: Robert Glasper
  • Beyond Album: Robert Glasper Experiment, “Black Radio”

For more on the poll, including interviews with the winners, get the mag’s December issue or click here.

Airto, Last Night at USF

The great Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira came to USF in Tampa this week for a workshop, a talk, and, last night, an exuberant show in the intimate setting of Theatre 2 (portrait courtesy of Joseph Gamble).

Airto, who was an essential ingredient of Miles’ early ’70s  jazz-funk-fusion projects and went on to play with the original versions of both Weather Report and Return to Forever,  alternated between drumset and a table full of percussion toys during the concert. He was accompanied by his son-in-law, Krishna Booker, also a percussionist (and son of late, great bassist Walter Booker, Airto’s connection to many jazz greats in the late ’60s ).

For the first part of the show, the two joined the USF faculty jazz group, for a set of Airto’s compositions — some incorporating bossa grooves, one in 6/4 (or 3/2), one in 7/4. Several pieces had tenor saxophonist Jack Wilkins, head of jazz studies at USF, and trombonist Tom Brantley joining for unison lines, with Airto occasionally contributing wordless vocals. Brantley, with and without a mute, Wilkins, and LaRue Nickelson, whose guitar sometimes sported a fusion-style overdriven burr, turned in several of the evening’s most inspired solos. The group also included Mark Neuenschwander on acoustic and electric bass, pianist Chris Rottmeyer and drummer Ian Goodman.

Airto, for his solo piece, pounded out complex, driving rhythms on a large tambourine, sang along in Portuguese, used his voice (sans electronics) to create some harmonic overtones, and at the end added a whistle to create the feeling of a street parade at a Carnaval celebration in his home country. Booker turned in a brief “beatbox” solo – mouth sounds recreating hip-hop rhythms.

The show closed with a short set nicely contrasting with what came before. Brantley directed USF Jazz Ensemble 1 in performances of Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia” and “La Fiesta,” written by Chick Corea. Airto reminded listeners that he appeared on the original version of the latter tune, on the debut Return to Forever album, recorded in 1972 but not released in the U.S. until 1975.

Jazz (and other music) CD Release Dates

(listed in reverse order; scroll down for earlier dates; updated as time permits)

2010 (coming soon)


June 2

  • Freddie Hubbard, Without a Song: Live in Europe 1969 (Blue Note)

May 26

  • Kyle Asche Organ Trio featuring Melvin Rhyne, Blues for Mel (Tippin’ Records)

May 12

  • Lynne Arriale, Nuance (Motema)
  • Stanley Clarke Trio, Jazz in the Garden (Heads Up)
  • Charnett Moffett, The Art of Improvisation (Motema)
  • Dave Siebels, Dave Siebels with Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band (PBGL)

May 5

  • Joel Harrison, Urban Myths (HighNote)
  • Joe Lovano and US Five, Folk Art (Blue Note)
  • David “Fathead” Newman, The Blessing (HighNote)

April 28

  • Melissa Morgan, Until I Met You (Telarc)
  • Spyro Gyra, Down the Wire (Heads Up)

April 14

  • Theo Bleckmann, Gary Versace and John Hollenbeck, Refuge Trio (Winter & Winter)
  • Derrick Gardner & the Jazz Prophets + 2, Echoes of Ethnicity (Owl Studios)
  • Chico Hamilton, Twelve Tones of Love (Joyous Shout!)
  • Jacques Loussier Trio, Jacques Loussier Plays Bach: The 50th Anniversary Recording (Telarc)
  • Kermit Ruffins, Livin’ a Treme Life (Basin Street)
  • Avery Sharpe Trio, Autumn Moonlight (JKNM Records)
  • Phil Woods, The Children’s Suite

April 7

  • Kenny Burrell, Prime: Live at the Downtown Room (HighNote Records)
  • “Papa” John DeFrancesco, Big Shot (HighNote Records)
  • Jack DeJohnette, John Patitucci and Danilo Perez, Music We Are (Golden Beams/Kindred Rhythm)
  • Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra, El Viaje
  • Meryl Romer, So Sure (Lady Pearl Music)
  • Jimmy Rushing, The Scene (HighNote Records)
  • Radam Schwartz, Blues Citizens (HighNote Records)

April 1

  • Eyran Katsenelenbogen, 88 Fingers (Eyran)

March 31

  • Fly, Sky & Country (ECM)
  • Diana Krall, Quiet Nights (Verve)
  • Tim Kuhl, King (WJF Records)
  • Marcus Roberts, New Orleans Meets Harlem, Vol. 1 (J-Master)
  • Yotam Silberstein, Next Page (Posi-Tone Records)
  • Anna Wilson, Time Changes (Transfer Records)
  • Mark Winkler, Till I Get It Right (FreeHam Records)

March 24

  • Charles Tolliver Big Band, Emperor March: Live at the Blue Note (HalfNote)
  • Sean Jones, The Search Within (Mack Avenue)
  • Julian Lage, Sounding Point (EmArcy)
  • Chuck Loeb, Between 2 Worlds (Heads Up)
  • Wynton Marsalis, He and She (Blue Note)

March 17

  • Melvin Gibb’s Elevated Entity, Ancients Speak (LiveWired Music)
  • Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, Making Love in the Dark Ages (LiveWired Music)
  • Hugh Masekela, Phola
  • Return to Forever, Returns (Eagle Rock)

March 10

  • Fat Cat Big Band, Meditations on the War for Whose Great God is the Most High You Are God (Smalls)
  • Madeleine Peyroux, Bare Bones (Rounder)
  • Philippe Saisse, At World’s Edge (Koch)

March 3

  • Terrence Brewer, Groovin’ Wes (Strong Brew)
  • Matt Criscuolo, Melancholia (M)
  • Papa John DeFrancesco, Big Shot (HighNote)
  • Aaron J. Johnson, Songs of Our Fathers (Bubble-Sun Records)
  • Radam Schwartz, Blues Citizens (HighNote)
  • Tierney Sutton Band, Desire (Telarc)
  • Seth Walker, Leap of Faith (Hyena)

Feb. 24

  • Red Holloway, Go Red Go! (Delmark)
  • Pieces of a Dream, Soul Intent (Heads Up)
  • Joe Zawinul, 75 (Heads Up)

Feb. 17

  • Al Hood, Just a Little Taste (Al Hood Music)
  • Mark Rapp, Token Tales (Paved Earth)
  • Dr. Lonnie Smith, Rise Up! (Palmetto Records)

Feb. 10

  • Theo Bleckmann, Kneebody: Twelve Songs by Charles Ives (Winter & Winter)
  • Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway, A Duet of One – Live at the Bakery (IPO)
  • Gary Husband’s Drive, Hotwired (Abstract Logix)
  • Michael Wolff, Joe’s Strut (Wrong Records)

January 27

  • Ralph Alessi and Modular Theater, Open Season (RKM)
  • Clifton Anderson, Decade (Doxy/Emarcy)
  • Dee Anderson, Wild is the Wind (BluJazz)
  • Ernestine Anderson, A Song For You (HighNote)
  • David Binney, Third Occasion (Mythology)
  • Marc Copland, New York Trio Recordings, Vol, 3 – Night Whispers (NYTR)
  • Gerry Gibbs and the Thrasher Band, Moving On (RKM)
  • Tom Harrell, Prana Dance (HighNote)
  • John Stetch, TV Trio (Brux Records)

January 20

  • Miles Davis, King of Blue: Legacy Edition (Sony Legacy)
  • Benny Golson Jazztet, New Time, New ‘Tet (Concord)
  • Margie Notte & Friends, Just You Just Me:Live at Cecil’s (G Note)
  • Frank Sinatra, Seduction: Sinatra Sings of Love (Reprise)

January 13

  • Jon Burr, Just Can’t Wait, CD/Live at Birdland, DVD (JBQ Media)
  • Brian McCree, Changes in the Wind (Accurate)
  • Hendrik Meurkens, Samba to Go! (Zoho)
  • Mark O’Connor, Live in New York (OMAC)
  • Joshua Redman, Compass (Nonesuch)

January – undated

  • Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion, Live at the Zinc Bar (RichMan)
  • Roberto Magris Trio, Kansas City Outbound (Vento Azul)

2009 – undated

  • Daniel Smith, Blue Bassoon


December 11

  • Steven Santoro, Whisper My Name (Red Lion)

December 4

  • Baron Tymas, Insight at Midnight (Tymas)