This 12th annual edition of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute Summit, a virtual concert thanks to the pandemic, explored a wide range of compositions by two jazz greats that we lost last year: pianist Chick Corea and drummer Ralph Peterson Jr., the latter a Berklee faculty member since 2003. The 87-minute program features five of the Institute’s graduate ensembles before concluding with two different faculty quintets.
The arrangements of these various Berklee bands are artful and imaginative. Chicago-born trumpeter Emiel De Jaegher is spotlighted on the uptempo opening quartet segment by BGJI’s Grey Ensemble on Corea’s “Humpty Dumpty” and Peterson’s “Art of War.” The Amber Ensemble, a guitar/bass/drums trio, performs Corea’s “Tones for Joan’s Bones” and Peterson’s “Keep it Simple,” with faculty member Nadia Washington adding vocals and acoustic guitar on the latter tune, a breezy mantra that features Sebastian Fuentes on electric guitar, Liany Mateo on bass, and Lily Finnegan on drums.
BGJI’s Purple Ensemble, joined by faculty guest Patricia Zarate Pérez on alto sax, contrasts moods on Peterson’s hard-driving “Freight Train” and Corea’s gentle “Sicily.” This two-bass quintet includes Noam Tanzer on acoustic and Ciara Moser on electric, Anastassiya Petrova on piano, drummer Ricardo Guerra, and singer Davide Cerreta, who adds wordless vocals to “Freight Train” and Italian-then-English lyrics on “Sicily.” The Silver Ensemble, a guitar quartet, is joined by faculty member Rick Di Muzio on tenor sax for Peterson’s “Impervious Gems” and “Love Castle,” a classic that Corea had recorded as a duo with vibraphonist and longtime Berklee dean Gary Burton. This segment features wonderful interplay between guitarist Paride Pignotti and bassist Paul Pandit.
A Zoom segment by the Maroon Ensemble handles two Corea gems: “Armando’s Rumba” and “Spain,” the latter featuring keyboardist Suwon Yim, faculty member Bertram Lehmann on percussion, and a mix of wordless and Spanish-language vocals from student Mar Fayos. It is both exotic and intimate. The BGJI Faculty Ensemble (Allan Chase on baritone and alto sax, Marco Pignataro on tenor and soprano sax, pianist Chase Morrin, bassist Bruno Raberg, and drummer Lehmann) digs deep into Peterson’s poignant “Portrait of Lord Willis” and Corea’s fiery “What Was.”
The tribute concludes with the Artists-in-Residence Ensemble (saxophonists Joe Lovano and George Garzone, BGJI founder Danilo Pérez on piano, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington). This all-star unit explores Peterson’s “Dream Deferred” and Corea’s “Quartet No. 2, Part II (Dedicated to John Coltrane).” There’s a freewheeling vibe that shifts from player to player, with a particular creative lock between longtime Wayne Shorter bandmates Pérez and Patitucci. Nobody holds back here.