Chick Corea/Stefano Bollani – Orvieto – ECM Records CD B0015980-2, 75:00 ****:
(Chick Corea – piano; Stefano Bollani – piano)
Chick Corea has demonstrated a strong penchant for collaboration. His resume boasts a stint with Miles Davis in the 1960s that was influential in the development of electric jazz fusion. Perhaps his greatest legacy is the formation of Return To Forever. This launched his career as a composer, arranger and instrumentalist. The inclusion of Spanish motifs in the melodic construct helped to define his early success.
In addition to ensemble and solo projects, Corea recorded several duet albums. His work with vibraphonist Gary Burton resulted in several releases for ECM. A 1978 live recording with Herbie Hancock raised the bar on jazz piano duet. Subsequent duet work has included pianists Friedrich Gulda, Nicolas Economou, Hiromi, and Gonzala Rubalcaba. His ability to mesh with partners is intuitive. Later piano works emphasized classical themes and complemented the jazz constructs.
Stefano Bollani has several recordings with ECM, including his Piano Solo in 2005. Additionally he recorded with two trios, and is among the best of the next generation of jazz pianists.
A new Chick Corea release is usually a cause for celebration. Orvieto is no exception. Recorded live at the Umbria Jazz Winter festival, the seventy-five minute, two-part performance is complex and includes a variety of styles. The opening track of Part 1: “Orvieto Improvisation No. 1,” has classical flair as the pianists explore the abstract themes. The duo is capable of great spontaneity in interpreting different composers. Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” has a breezy countenance, full of tempo shifts and expressive phrasing. The chemistry is evident in the flow of the piece. On “Retrato Em Branco E Preto” (Jobim/Buarque), the display of harmonic interplay and underlying dance cadence is full of delicacy and flourish. “Doralice (Almeida/Caymmi)” swings with hard bop vitality, yet maintains a fluid lyricism.
A pair of American standards is covered. “If I Should Lose You” (covered by Charlie Parker, Hank Mobley and Aretha Franklin) evokes a metropolitan sophistication with great rhythm and assured runs. “Darn That Dream” (Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans have recorded this classic) is the epitome of improvisation as the duo play off each other with inventiveness.
There are original compositions that are intriguing: “Blues In F” (written by Corea and Bollani) has a lively beat with soulful accents. Corea draws on his 1976 album My Spanish Heart for the up tempo, “Armando’s Rhumba”. After a relaxed jazzy intro, the song morphs into a rollicking jam. Bollani’s “A Valsa Da Paula” emphasizes a percussive abstract dynamic before its wistful conclusion. The musicians have acknowledged that there were no rehearsals for these performances. The cohesiveness of Orvieto speaks to the greatness of jazz improvisation.
Part 1: Orvieto Improvisation No. 1; Retrato Em Branco E Preto; If I Should Lose You; Doralice; Jitterbug Waltz; A Valsa Da Paula
Part 2: Ovierto Improvisation No. 2/Nardis; Este Seu Olhar; Darn That Dream; Tirititran; Armando’s Rhumba; Blues In F
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