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Chick Corea’s Flamenco Heart at the Blue Note, Nov. 18, 2011

Midway through his month-long run, the keyboard legend revisits one of his favorite styles

Chick Corea at the Blue Note, 11-11
Concha Buika at the Blue Note, 11-11
Chick Corea at the Blue Note, 11-11

Chick Corea’s month-long, 70th birthday run at the Blue Note was curated with the intention of displaying the keyboardist’s breadth: the 10 different programs spanned electronic fusion to acoustic piano duos, a Miles alumni reunion to a date with vibist Gary Burton and the Harlem String Quartet. But one of the more intriguing promised shows was the three-nighter billed as Chick Corea’s Flamenco Heart, which ran from Nov. 18-20. Although Latin music as a broad genre has always been a building block of Corea’s polyglot approach, specific flirtations with flamenco have been sparse. Corea dabbled in the genre on his 1976 album My Spanish Heart, which basically put a Latin accent on a mix of progressive, synth-heavy jams and acoustic stylings, and in 1982, for his Touchstone album, he invited along the exceptional flamenco guitarist Paco DeLucia.

But the real precedent for the Blue Note gigs could be found in a pair of albums released in the middle of the past decade, 2005’s Rhumba Flamenco (recorded as Touchstone) and the following year’s The Ultimate Adventure. Each teamed Corea with two veterans of DeLucia’s bands, bassist Carles Benavent and saxophonist/flautist Jorge Pardo, who formed the core of the Flamenco Heart shows’ band, alongside drummer Jeff Ballard, heard before with Corea in the latter’s band Origin. Throughout the course of the night they would be joined by others, but had that quartet provided all of the music, that too would have been most satisfying.

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