Live at the Blue Note
If Corea's new band was this good on their first gig in early 1998, what are they up to now? That will no doubt be disclosed in the next album. In the meantime, in this debut recording there is much to absorb of musicianship and beauty.
The music contains hints at Corea's acoustic past; as an example, the rhythmic and harmonic echoes of "Spain" in "Say It Again (Part 2)." There's a bit of the delicacy and drive of "Windows" in "Soul Mates," which has symbiotic flute work by Steve Wilson and Bob Sheppard. "Double Image" maintains a neat balance among adventures on the far side, Latin flavor, and modern mainstream tradition. Wilson's and Sheppard's panoplies of reeds and Steve Davis' trombone provide a palette for Corea's resourcefulness at harmonic blending. Each is a superior soloist. If Sheppard gets the exposure he deserves with Corea, he may not stay one of the best kept tenor secrets in jazz. Bassist Avishai Cohen and drummer Adam Cruz, experienced youngsters, fall naturally into Corea's rhythm section grooves.
Most of the pieces in this live recording are new Corea compositions, but a long excursion through the perpetually fresh harmonies of Burke and Van Heusen's "It Could Happen to You" provides more than its share of high points. It has stimulating solos by all hands and an exchange of four-bar phrases between Corea and Cruz that pulses with wit and good feeling.