Chick Corea: Now He Sings, Now He Sobs
At age twenty-eight, Chick Corea had already made serious contributions on studio dates with Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws, Cal Tjader, Dave Pike, Donald Byrd, and Stan Getz often contributing arrangements as well as playing piano. He had also recorded his first solo album in 1966, Tones for Joan’s Bones, with Woody Shaw on trumpet, which was released in April 1968.
Corea started playing piano at age four, developing not only impressive piano skills, but a passionate love for both classical and jazz music. This mastery of the two genres is apparent in this album, the format of jazz trio working well in terms of emphasizing the piano part and facilitating optimal engagement between a small set of artists.
“Steps – What Was” starts with piano solo soon joined by veteran Roy Haynes on drums and twenty-year old Czech classically-trained Miroslav Vitouš on acoustic bass. The work brims with enthusiasm and freshness and, after a brief drum solo by Haynes and before a bass solo by Vitouš, is a wonderful piano-led passage that reveals an early version of Corea’s “Spain” theme.
“Matrix’ includes a brief statement of the theme and a wild ride of head-spinning improvisation, again including room for statements by Vitouš and Haynes.
The next two tracks take their title from the explanation of the third line of the Kung Fú (Inmost Sincerity) hexagram in the ancient Chinese Book of Changes, The I Ching, roughly translated as “Now he beats his drum, and now he leaves off. Now he weeps, and now he sings.” These two works are very different with “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs”, being generally forward-looking, energetic and optimistic and “Now He Beats The Drum, Now He Stops” being more of a two-part composition, with the first section, a piano solo, full of reflection and inner-doubt, and the second section surging with revitalization and purpose.
The last track, “The Law Of Falling And Catching Up” is a free-jazz excursion with Corea directly accessing the strings of the grand piano. Somewhat pointillistic and Webern-like, the piece is sweeping in texture and content yet, at under two and half minutes, compact and focused.
Track listing [from Wikipedia]
- “Steps – What Was”
- “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs”
- “Now He Beats The Drum, Now He Stops”
- “The Law Of Falling And Catching Up”
Hugh Masekala: The Promise of the Future
Though sometimes Masekala’s work gets categorized as “Easy Listening”, this album contains some fine jazz and early world-fusion with Masekala providing quality trumpet with fine supporting musicians including uncredited folk-revival guitarist Bruce Langhorne. Baby Boomers will recognize the instrumental “Grazing in the Grass”, which went to the top of the charts, and was later revisited by The Friends of Distinction with added vocals. Also notable is the reflective, meditative rendition of Traffic’s “No Face, No Name And No Number”, Miriam Makeba’s “Bajabule Bonke” and Masekala’s own “Almost Seedless.”
Track listing [From Wikipedia]
|1.||“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“||Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson||2:00|
|3.||“No Face, No Name and No Number”||Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood||3:26|
|4.||“Almost Seedless”||Hugh Masekela||3:36|
|5.||“Stop”||Jerry Ragovoy, Mort Shuman||2:35|
|6.||“Grazing in the Grass“||Harry Elston, Philemon Hou, Hugh Masekela||2:40|
|7.||“Vuca” (Wake Up)||Hugh Masekela||3:40|
|8.||“Bajabule Bonke” (The Healing Song)||Miriam Makeba||6:25|
|9.||“There Are Seeds To Sow” (Guitar – Bruce Langhorne)||Hugh Masekela||2:25|