Gary Giddins
April 26, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Chick Corea Akoustic Band: Alive

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
Producers
GRP
genre
Jazz

We gave it a B+

Pianist Chick Corea has made several acoustic — or ”akoustic,” as he prefers — recordings in the years since he helped popularize the Fender Rhodes-fusion school of jazz, in which he festoons his music with exotic percussion, strings, and trite lyrics in addition to electronic instruments. But what makes his new album Alive notable is his traditional approach to traditional material — this is the kind of trio session he might have recorded 25 years ago in his pre-fusion days. Except for Corea’s two originals and Billy Strayhorn’s ”U.M.M.G.,” the pieces are among the most frequently played standards. Yet Corea puts his own stamp on them, especially in arcane introductions. (”How Deep Is the Ocean” provides a tour de force example.) The aggressive finesse of his accompanists — bassist John Patitucci and drummer Dave Weckl — proves that some elements of fusion (the taut tuning of the drums, the headlong snap of the bass) work fine in a nonelectric setting. But then Corea never needed amplifiers to prove that he was a talented improviser. B+

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