If Chick Corea has largely forsworn the Steinway for its electronic stepchildren, he has at least come up with a tolerable alternative in his synthesizer-based group Touchstone, in concert Monday night at a crowded Wax Museum Nightclub. The sextet kept its volume down to livable levels and those in control of the mixing board for once provided a separation of sound that afforded the listener an experience of each instrument.
Paco De Lucia, alone on stage for the extended initial number, set the Iberian mood of the opening set with furious traditional flamenco rhythms on acoustic guitar. His metallic, even tinny, twang lent an archaic and earthy touch to the group, contrasting effectively with the galaxy drones and warp-speed flights of the leader.
Corea worked at three keyboards on "The Yellow Nimbus" and a following "brand new as yet unnamed composition," producing harp-like pings over thick-textured organ undertow. Steve Kujala's flute embroidered with piercing trills and percussionist Don Alias assisted drummer Tom Brechtlein in nailing down a polyrhythmic carpet. The electric bass of Carlos Benavent was handled with restraint, acting both as a fulcrum to the group and a partner to De Lucia's guitar.
There were some moments of beauty, supplied almost exclusively by De Lucia's directness on solo guitar and by the patchwork quilt effect of his ensemble participation.