It may be stating the obvious to observe that Chick Corea has grown into one of the jazz legends of this generation. Not only his recordings, but also his compositions, have become classics that have influenced musicians all over the world. From his early, tentative work with Mongo Santamaria and even a disastrous early session with Gary Burton in the 1960’s, Corea finally came into his own after his legendary work with Stan Getz, particularly the classic Sweet Rain
album. From then on, Corea’s creativity was boundless, and it continues to be so today, as Corea finds new styles of music to explore and new instrumental configurations to assemble.
To celebrate his sixtieth birthday, producers, friends, admirers, journalists, celebrities and recording engineers gathered at the Blue Note nightclub in New York for a week of his music. The result was sixty hours of tape to be edited and from which the most representative tracks would be selected. After all of those decisions were made, Rendezvous in New York
emerged as a high-quality two-CD souvenir of the evening, available for those who weren’t able to attend the special event--which includes most of the world.
Recognizing the birthday celebration as a special event, many of the musicians from Corea’s earlier groups showed up to perform, including Bobby McFerrin, Avishai Cohen, Dave Weckl, Roy Haynes, Miroslav Vitous and Michael Brecker.
Two realizations occur while listening to Rendezvous in New York
: (1) that Corea’s scampering style remains constant, no matter who his band members are, and (2) that much of his music becomes instantly recognizable. The deduction from all of that is that Corea has contributed significantly to jazz technique and to the jazz canon, for some of his tunes like "Spain" or "Crystal Silence" have become classics, reference points for other musicians.
From the evidence of the CD, all of the musicians were "on" when they performed with Corea, none more so that Dave Weckl and John Patitucci, as they surprised even Corea himself with the energy of their trio. Just listen to "Bessie’s Blues," as the trio builds layer upon layer of slowly building excitement until it reaches its peak on the eighteenth chorus, all three locking in so tightly that they inescapably pull in the audience.
Corea’s performance with Burton proves once again that their first missteps as young musicians eventually grew into one of the great duos in all of jazz, especially their classic "Crystal Silence" performance resulting from the serendipity of being forced to fill in for someone else at the festival in Munich. And the presence of Bobby McFerrin, inspired by Corea’s playing and elaborating on it in "Armando’s Rhumba" and "Spain," for example, makes evident the playfulness in Corea’s music.
One of the more surprising tracks on Rendezvous in New York
is the Corea/Gonzalo Rubalcaba duo on "Concierto de Aranjuez" and "Spain," for Rubalcaba isn’t normally associated with Corea in the same way that the other musicians appearing on the CD’s are. But then, Corea’s music inspired Rubalcaba even when he lived in Cuba and led to his interest in jazz over a career in classical piano playing.
After a week of celebration, as indicated by the music on Rendezvous in New York,
one can only assume that sixty hours weren’t enough to contain all of the contributions of Chick Corea. Evidently, the audience wanted more. And so do the listeners of the two CDs.