John McLaughlin’s brilliant Corea

Thanks to Andrew Robertson:

John McLaughlin’s and Chick Corea’s Five Peace Band graced Adelaide last week with a concert of effortless brilliance.

This was not a band as much as it was an ensemble, all five musicians being equal – albeit that McLaughlin and Corea were both (if that is possible) first among equals.

It seemed to me that Corea rather than McLaughlin was the bandleader, even though it was McLaughlin standing centre-stage and whose name was first on the bill – but it was Corea’s keyboards that the music seemed to be built around.

How often does one get to hear two Miles Davis alumni play? And yet, it wasn’t two Miles Davis alumni playing, it was one Five Peace Band. This was a concert at which the music was the star, not the players. So perfectly did the band meld that the music they created became bigger than any of them. They were one whole – and that cliché about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts was never more true.

Reflecting after the concert, I was struck by the fact that I didn’t really remember any great solos – of course they had played them, but they were not the experience of the night, because that would have individualized it, whereas this night was about the totality of the music.

Jazz is sometimes considered to be serious, but this jazz was joyful. I think after every song they all acknowledged each other. If it was a Corea composition, he would acknowledge each band member and McLaughlin. Similarly McLaughlin with his compositions. This respect for each other was uplifting, and it uplifted the music. The respect for the music was reverent – but not in a stuffy, religious, can’t-touch-it kind of way. It was earthy and honest, reflected in their big beaming smiles and warm embraces. There was no distance between band and audience.

Christian McBride on bass is as good as they come – he had also played in Adelaide a couple of years ago with Pat Metheny, another great concert. Kenny Garrett on sax was outstanding, and Brian Blade did amazing things on his drums. These guys were all of the calibre of Miles Davis alumni, even though, of course, only Garrett is. Could anyone have played better? Billy Cobham? Wayne Shorter? I don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter – but I think there comes a time when the music just can’t be played any better, and this ensemble achieved that, at least to my ears!

Songs included McLaughlin’s New Blues, Old Bruise (great song title!) and Senor CS from Industrial Zen, and an expansive Raju; Corea’s Hymn to Andromeda; Dr Jackle, an old Miles Davis track (although I am not sure whether he wrote it); and a couple more.

So that’s the story of John’s brilliant Corea and Chick’s brilliant career.

Andrew in Adelaide

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One Response to “John McLaughlin’s brilliant Corea”

  1. aboutblackboston Says:

    Last saw Christian McBride eating appetizers in Jamaica Plain. Thank you for your Chick Corea post! There is a street named after him in Chelsea, Massachusetts where I once worked some years ago. His “Return to Forever” band with Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al Dimeola was so great! I’ve yet to see Chick play live. He was one of the first who came in as a friend on our myspace.com/aboutblackboston page. That was nice. Saw Lenny White on drums near Boston. Mr. Wayne Shorter celebrated a recent birthday ’08 in Boston with a tribute gig at Berklee Performance Center. I look forward to returning again and again to read more on “Music For Grownups.” Your link is on our blog roll now – http://aboutblackboston.wordpress.com

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