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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Chick Corea Trio @ Big Top, Cheltenham Jazz Festival - April 30

(Review by Steve T/photo courtesy of Stuart Farthing)
My misery continued as I found myself on the back row with the rigging maintaining the Big Top precisely between me and the legend; literally the worst seat in the house and after buying the ticket in December shortly after they went on sale.
At a sprightly seventy five Corea’s fingers are still incredibly nimble. Solely in terms of musicianship, I put him behind Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson and as an artist I have him in the top half dozen living Jazz artists. His trio - Eddie Gomez on bass and Brian Blade on drums - need no recommendation from me and they didn't disappoint.
Following a strange introduction which had sections of the audience singing notes back to him, we got Five Hundred Miles High, Alice in Wonderland, Monk’s Work and a Spanish Song.
It's a genuine trio with each leading seemingly simultaneously but it all making total sense, while maintaining the solo order of piano, bass, drums, his embellishments ensuring nothing became boring or tedious.  
A bowed bass confirmed Spain as the encore and the singalong at the beginning all began to make sense. More than a little naff for my liking and a shame that an artist of this stature feels the need for a party piece, which could reduce him in the eyes of many to that Jazz bloke who made Spain.
Some loved it, I liked it but many didn't, which I think was a case of expectations. As these giants age it becomes a balance between homage and can they still play? He certainly can, but any changing of the world was completed decades ago and isn't necessarily going to transfer in a giant tent at a Jazz Festival in 2017. 
Steve T.

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