To celebrate his 75th birthday, Chick Corea is currently the resident at New York City’s Blue Note Jazz Club. Of course, a regular stint of shows wouldn’t be enough for such a prominent musician, so he has assembled a number of different groups to hold court each week. This week was Origin II.
The Origin band first played at Blue Note in the 90s, and Chick Corea felt the need to go back to the progressive acoustic sound of those sessions with a new cast of musicians in 2016. He hand-picked Marcus Gilmore on Drums, Ravi Coltrane on Sax, Steve Wilson on Sax & Flute, Steve Davis on Trombone, and Carlitos Del Puerto on Bass. We were lucky enough to catch this group’s final show on Sunday.
For the large chunk of the, Corea would instruct Gilmore with nonverbal cues that Gilmore would then expertly respond to. For such complicated subject matter, the team of Corea and Gilmore laid the foundation for the rest of the band to get in on as well. Del Puerto did a great job keeping up with the duo by adding bass to the rhythm section, but the piano/drums connection was the strongest visible tie, most likely due to the fact that these two have worked together extensively.
The night started with “Fingerprints,” a Corea-penned response track to Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints.” The song first appeared with Corea’s trio project, and stuck to that instrumentation for a while before the brass section kicked in. The horns were mostly used as soloists, giving Corea a slight break from his note-eating and to differentiate sounds for the audience. Ravi Coltrane, specifically, really shined in this context.
We had a very special treat of vocalist Gayle Moran Corea, the wife of Chick, joining the band for a couple of songs, the standard “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and the Corea classic “500 Miles High.” The couple have been married since 1972, and their love for each other was still evident to all in attendance. Gayle stood behind Chick, and the two flirted their way through any part in the songs that they weren’t garnering the spotlight on. It was adorable, to say the least, and Gayle’s voice was an amazing contribution to an obviously killer cast of musicians.
Marcus Gilmore’s chops cannot be understated here, either. Aside from Chick, Marcus held the floor for multiple solos that had the late-night crowd on the edge of their seat. He’s one of the most exciting players in jazz, and it isn’t certain whether or not he’s hit his peak just yet. Be sure to see him playing with Taylor McFerrin, Vijay Iyer, or with his own projects whenever you have the chance.