Saturday, May 18, 2013
8:00pm | Rose Theater
Tickets start at $30
Now in his seventies, the pianist-composer Chick Corea will be celebrated during JALC's 25th Anniversary Season with a multi-venue festival. On the Rose Theater portion, Corea will reconnect with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in a reprise of their highly acclaimed collaborations in 2011, performing deeply original arrangements by JLCO members of Corea's masterful songbook. This interplay showcases Corea's singular abilities as a musical storyteller, with vocabulary that contain a global range of reference—Bach and bebop, Bartok and the blues, Mozart and montunos, Ravel and rumba, Stravinsky and samba, all tempered with the language of swing and the Spanish Tinge. Joining in the festivities are Riza Printup, harp, and Max Seigel, bass trombone.
Free pre-concert festival, May 17 and 18 at 6:30pm, with live music from Benny Benack III Quartet and tastings from Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, North Coast Brewing Co., Runner & Stone, and Apollo White Nights Vodka with Highland Restaurant Group.
Free pre-concert discussion with the JLCO's Ted Nash (5/16 only) and with the JLCO's Sherman Irby hosted by Michael Mwenso (5/17-5/18), nightly at 7pm.
“I’ve recently come around to the realization that my main thing was—and still is—as a composer, and not trying to be a great pianist. I mean, I would love to now be a great pianist, so I’m starting to practice. But composing was always my focus, and I would use the piano to realize my compositions.” — Chick Corea, 2009
“My favorite game to play in music is the one of forming groups.” — Chick Corea, 2012
Chick Corea doesn’t mind if you call him “the Chameleon,” a cognomen attached to him for so long as to be almost a cliché. It’s an apt descriptor of the way Corea, throughout his half-century as a professional musician, has managed to imprint his personality on the host of musical directions in which he’s invested himself.
“My desire has always been to learn something new,” Corea said on the subject a few years ago. “I don’t think there’s a ceiling to learning and growing more aware and skillful. To do that, it’s always necessary to find something I can’t do, that I want to do, and then to go there. I’ve never had a sense of trying to create my own sound or my own way. So I tend to find myself playing many different roles, being many different ways, expressing many different emotions. I’m always happiest when my attention is outside myself, and whatever comes out, comes out. It makes life interesting and rich.”
For all the scope of his adventures, Corea, 71, has rarely played the role of pianist in a creative big band, as he will do tonight with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. In fact, he reveals that until the first Corea-JLCO encounter in January 2011 (for which eight different bandmembers contributed arrangements of 11 Corea classics, created, with one exception, between the mid-1960s and mid- 1980s), his one experience playing his works in that idiom comprised a single winter 2000 project, when he performed Erlend Skomsvoll’s charts with Norway’s Trondheim Jazz Orchestra.
“It was different with Jazz at Lincoln Center,” Corea remarks. “Each arranger brought some interesting twists to my songs. It’s a real group effort, and I had a blast playing with them.”
For round two on this evening, Corea adds, the partners will tweak the same repertoire. But even if the proceedings follow a path not dissimilar to what transpired two years ago, the animating spirit will embody Corea’s aesthetic philosophy of always chasing the next step.
“A jazz musician writes by making a game plan,” Corea says, encapsulating his modus operandi. “Once you have the musicians, you decide the rules of the game. You can play free, which is fun. But if there’s a particular message, it starts with a composition—create a theme and give it form and harmonies and feel, so that the group can grasp onto it and then expand. To put down a thought and communicate it to others in a way that they understand is a magical thing. One of the strongest factors that continues to drive me is the social element—being together in a group, and forming something that is high fun and high creation, and then trying to make that as communicative as possible to the audience, which is the rest of the game.
“When I get into creating a project, or composing something, it could be likened to making a movie—it has a script, a message, a soundtrack, a way you operate. Of course, unlike movies, it keeps changing performance after performance. That’s why I don’t look at myself and say, ‘Well, I am this, and therefore I am going to do that.’ I think: ‘I can be whatever it’s necessary to be in order to play that game.’ It’s the game that interests me. You have this ability to transcend language, and always create something new. That’s what an artist is interested in — creating a new message, creating some new game, creating something beautiful.”-- Ted Panken © 2013