Chick Corea is amidst a 75th birthday celebration that only a true musician could be stoked on: an 80-show residency at the legendary Blue Note Jazz Club, wherein every few shows the lineup shifts to keep things fresh.
This week, for the Wednesday and Thursday gigs, Corea was joined by Marcus Gilmore on drums, Taylor McFerrin on keys / electronics, and Yosvany Terry on sax / percussion. The night was billed as ‘Experiments in Electronics,’ and featured unplanned strains of improv with each musician playing with various effects to produce a very modern sound.
The music was a true sum of its parts: Gilmore’s virtuosic beats laid the canvas for McFerrin and Terry to create textures, for most of the evening, with synths and percussion. That foundation was then turned way up by Corea, who truly lead the team in any direction he saw fit for the majority of the improvisations. He wasn’t afraid to sit back and let Terry get it in on the saxophone either, and during those times he’d play the most tasteful accents until it was his turn once again to eat up all the notes on his Yamaha grand piano and synths. Even that grand piano wasn’t safe from the tagline ‘Experiments in Electronics,’ as Chick would utilize effects to give it this really distorted sound from time to time.
Despite a cold week, spiritually and thermally, Corea and his crew brought the love into Blue Note last night. The hour+ show wasn’t enough for the patrons, who screamed for more following the last song. Corea, Terry, McFerrin, and Gilmore took their positions for an encore that saw Corea truly demonstrate his experience and skill.
He started off with a few minutes of brilliant, solo piano work before the band joined in for the duration of the song, which started off as spacey as you’d expect before Corea’s “Spain” piano riffs brought everyone to cheer! He then did about a minute of call and response (which was no simple “hey-hey-HEY-ho” type of game) before jumping back into it and bringin’ it home for one last big finale. For me, it was a much needed reminder that art still exists, music is still good, and when you’re down, it’ll always been there.