Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Milestone month

Life’s milestones can result in momentous occasions. Such is the case with Chick Corea’s 70th birthday, which was on June 12. The extended fanfare continues for the pianist, who tonight opens a four-week “birthday celebration” engagement at New York’s Blue Note.

Over 23 nights, ending on November 27, Corea will perform in 10 different musical contexts that reflect his diversified career. Check out the club’s website for full details, and you’ll find the range of participating musical partners to be fascinating. Acoustic Chick, electric Chick, a nod to Miles Davis, as well as an unplugged version of Return to Forever, duos, trios and three nights (November 18-20) billed as “Chick’s Flamenco Heart,” which will explore the pianist’s love of Spanish and Latin music with a new quintet.

The duos are particularly fascinating, teaming Corea at various points with singer Bobby McFerrin and pianists Marcus Roberts and Herbie Hancock (the latter a generational peer at age 71). There’s also a duo collaboration of sorts with vibes player Gary Burton (augmented by the Harlem String Quartet. [photo: Chick Corea at Newport, 2010]

Each night, indeed each set, should be fascinating. There will be no coasting for Corea. Not that there ever is.

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