Chick Corea - The Complete "IS" Sessions CD2
Label: Blue Note (2002)
Total time: 144:01
Bitrate: 320 kbps
This music is 36 years old now. Just realize what has happened during this time in contemporary music - jazz or "classical": The borderline has completely vanished. Listen to 21st century contemporary music ("classical") - it sounds like Chick Corea in 1969.
This man is a genius. And these sessions are the work of a genius. ~ some1
The Complete "Is" Sessions were recorded during Chick Corea's tenure with Miles Davis, along with bassist Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. Recorded over three days in New York, the final product came out as two albums on different labels -- "Is," "This," "Jamala," and "I," were issued as Is on Solid State, and the remaining cuts came out as Sundance on Groove Merchant -- "The Brain," "Song of the Wind," "Converge," and the title cut. Blue Note has assembled not only the two released recordings on this double-CD package, but the alternate takes as well, to offer a complex, very remarkable portrait of the chemistry that occurred when that trio engaged Woody Shaw, Bennie Maupin, Hubert Laws, and additional drummer Horace Arnold. Corea plays both acoustic and electric piano on these sides and, taking his cue form his work with Miles, he pushes his own sense of melodic invention with the right hand to the breaking point. However, not a jazz-rock session in any way, this material, for as "outside" as it was trying to get, was formalist in conception if not intent -- these players swung hard even if they didn't intend to. A listen to "The Brain," with its front line engagement by Maupin and Corea using counter point inside a blues fragment to open up a lane for hard swinging rhythm is a case in point. Elsewhere, on "This," and its longer alternate take, angular Rhodes solos are stunningly reflected back into a polyrhythmic mass by bassist Holland. Corea's runs are countered in rhythm and harmony. "Song of the Wind," a ballad in inception, becomes a kind of mid-tempo piece that uses mode and formal composition to create a meandering wind through nearly pastoral soundscapes thanks to Corea's glissandi and Hubert Laws' beautiful single-tone playing. In sum, this is out jazz that any jazz fan can appreciate; it not only respects the modern tradition, but uses it to further its own aims. This is the kind of stuff Blue Note should do more often. ~ Thom Yurek, AMG
Chick Corea has taken some serious flack for artistic decisions he made in the 70s -- plenty of it is deserved. But before forming the first Return to Forever, he played challenging, uncompromising jazz that floated somewhere between post-bop, jazz-rock and free improvisation.
These two CDs, recorded in May of 1969, shouldn't be listened to in one sitting. Some of this stuff works and some of it doesn't, but in reasonable doses (say, 30-40 minutes), it's a fun ride. Chick's companions are his buddies from the Davis group (Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland), trumpeter Woody Shaw, flautist Hubert Laws, drummer Horace Arnold, and tenor saxophonist Bennie Maupin. Different permutations of the lineup play on each track.
The tracks run all over the place. "It" is a wonderful 30 second duet between Corea (on acoustic piano) and Laws; "Is" is a 30 minute collective improvisation that drifts unpredictably between energy and boredom. The best tracks are "The Brain" and "This" -- explosive post-bop with ear-opening solos by Corea (on both acoustic and electric) and Maupin. If you're only familiar with Maupin from his bass clarinet noodling on Bitches Brew or his reed playing on the Headhunters recordings, you'll be blown away. He sounds like a very angry Wayne Shorter. "Song of the Wind" is also known as "Waltz for Bill Evans", while "Jamala" would appear on the classic first album by the Gateway trio.
This new reissue has much better sound than most previous issues of this material; only the alternate of "Sundance", for which no original masters were found, has a poor sound. The sequencing is convenient: disc one contains the (relatively) more accessible material while disc two includes the collective improvisations. Anyway, if you like Circle, the wilder moments of Now He Sings, Now He Sobs or the rhythm sections on Miles's '69-'70 recordings, then you should definitely pick up the Complete Is Sessions. ~ G. B.
Chick Corea (Piano and Electric Piano)
Woody Shaw (Trumpet)
Hubert Laws (Flute and Piccolo)
Bennie Maupin (Tenor Saxophone)
Dave Holland (Double Bass)
Jack DeJohnette (Drums)
Horace Arnold (Drums and Percussion)