Chick Corea & Gary Burton


Chick Corea (piano) & Gary Burton (vibraphone)

Reviewed by: Bernie Mulcahy

Reviewed: 30 June, 2007
Venue: Barbican Hall, London

Chick Corea and Gary Burton performed at the Barbican Hall as part of a tour to celebrate the 35th-anniversary of the release of the pair’s original collaboration “Crystal Silence”.

Both are innovative and illustrious artists in their own right. Burton transformed jazz vibraphone with rich chords and warm tones, while Corea combines his love of Latin rhythms and interest in the avant-garde with flair and technique. The duo’s occasional partnership continues to provide the opportunity for them to bring out the best in each other.

Relaxed, informal and friendly, the pair shared anecdotes with the audience between numbers. Burton informed us that their collaboration started by accident when they were the only two musicians to play the encore after a performance at the 1972 Munich Jazz Festival. The chemistry between the two is still strong, each knowing when to support and when to take the lead, the focus passing seamlessly from one to the other.

The title track from the 1997 release, “Native Sense”, featured dazzling showers of notes from the top of Burton’s range over a base of funky Latin jazz from Corea’s piano, while the slow flamenco rhythm of “Allegria”, a new composition by the pianist, developed into a whirl of cascading notes flecked with colour. A tune inspired by the bebop pianist Bud Powell found Burton on the rise, with an upbeat swing and rapid rolling runs, unselfishly and sympathetically supported by Corea.

Revealing the duo’s wide musical heritage, the second set featured a delicate and beautiful number based on a piano prelude written by the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin in 1888. The title track from “Crystal Silence” featured dreamy waves of vibes, ringing tones and magical interplay. The final number of the set was not introduced but was the uplifting highlight with impossibly fast hammering from Burton, chiming motifs and a sublime conclusion.

A standing ovation was rewarded with two encores, the duo complementing each other perfectly through a fitting finale to an absorbing and memorable evening of camaraderie, humour and astounding virtuosity.

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