Backed by inconsistent musicianship, Chick Corea himself turned in an inconsistent performance at the Wax Museum last night. The jazz pianist and composer showed occasional flashes of his undeniable talent, but mostly he was content to play fast, flashy single-note runs or boogie beat chord changes. Why not? These applause-winning routines are a lot easier than constructing absorbing harmonies or building emotional passages. Certainly no one else on stage was capable of pushing him to his limits.
Trumpeter Al Vizzutti missed notes and tempos and played fast scale runs with no dynamics. Reed player Steve Kujala was more adept but took few risks and revealed little personality in his shallow tone. Thus some potentially lovely piano-flute duets became dangerously unbalanced.
Drummer Tom Brechtlein seemed incapable of anything but a pushy rock beat. Carlos Benavent was the most able of the young musicians as he bent his electric bass notes into blues harmonies. Veteran percussionist Don Alias was even better, but usually got lost in the loud mix. Gayle Moran sang pleasantly but unexceptionally on Corea's "You're Everything" and Cole Porter's "So in Love."
Typical of the evening was a version of Thelonius Monk's " 'Round Midnight" that began with a sensitive acoustic piano solo by Corea but soon shifted into fast, shapeless electronic one-upmanship that had little to do with " 'Round Midnight," Monk or Corea's true talent.