Monday, February 13, 2006

Chick Corea - The Ultimate Adventure (Stretch, 2006)

Chick Corea's new album is another soundtrack to a work of fiction by the Scientology guru L. Ron Hubbard, as was last years Electric Band project To The Stars. Where that album constituted Corea's look at present day jazz fusion, this album looks back to his days as leader of the 1970's fusion band Return to Forever, using much of that old band's same instrumental makeup, especially in the prevalence of flutes and electric keyboards, which gives the music a light and airy sound. There are many short compositions on this CD which blend together in suite-like formation.

"El Stephene, Pt. 1" has a slinky groove, multi-tracking Fender Rhodes electric piano with synthesizers and opening up for a nice flute interlude. "Flight From Karoof" has an arrangement of flutes and keyboard with Latin hand percussion and a nice acoustic piano section woven in, while "King and Queen" keeps the spacious dynamics of the music with a flute solo set against percussion. There is a Middle Eastern feel to some of the music as well, particularly in "North Africa" where cool hand percussion underpins shimmering electric piano and flute, and there are even some funky moments as well, like when the electric bass and groovy electric piano which bubble up on "Moseb the Executioner."

While this is a very "pretty" album, the music presented here does have a strong retro-70's vibe to it and in all honesty sounds a little dated despite the efforts of the clearly talented musicians involved. Since Chick Corea seems interested in revisiting his past, hopefully his next project will offer something a little more challenging. Perhaps another album by the wonderful Origin ensemble of the mid-90's? Or even a re-formed Circle with Dave Holland and Anthony Braxton? Stay tuned.

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