Chick Corea's name alone was enough to guarantee a sellout at Blues Alley last night, but the music that ultimately delighted the full house, which included violinist Itzhak Perlman and saxophonist Stan Getz, wasn't the work of any one musician. Rather, it was a collaborative effort, for which Corea, bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Roy Haynes deserve equal credit.
It was also, as Corea said, "a very unplanned program"--a mixture of improvisation and composition embracing jazz, funk and classical styles. The improvisation often began quite tentatively, with Corea probing the keyboard in sharp bursts, while Vitous and Haynes deftly filled in the spaces. Once direction was established, the trio took flight as one, Corea's darting chromatic runs leading the way.
The first of these excursions served to introduce "Rhythm-A-Ning," but more striking was another Thelonious Monk standard, "Round Midnight." Here, the trio developed Monk's theme in an oblique yet alluring manner, distilling its haunting quality, and bringing an uncommon quiet to the room. On this piece and others, Vitous' bowed melody lines and Haynes' telling accents were particularly impressive. And though Corea occasionally turned to the electric piano, this concert was a far cry from anything currently happening in fusion music.
After performing at the White House today with several other jazz luminaries, the trio returns to Blues Alley tonight.