A Renewed Musical Friendship

The New Crystal Silence (Concord Records)
Chick Corea and Gary Burton

By Martin Z. Kasdan Jr.

It's hard to believe that it has been more than 35 years now since the release of the classic album Crystal Silence, the beautiful 1972 recording of duets by pianist Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton. To celebrate, Corea and Burton performed a series of concerts during 2007, dubbed the 35th Anniversary Crystal Silence tour and have just released a double CD set from that tour: The New Crystal Silence.

The first disc finds Corea and Burton in performance at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, with the Sydney Symphony. The orchestral arrangements of the five Corea pieces here, by Tim Garland, are gorgeous. Corea's Spanish-tinged compositions, such as the opening "Duende," lend themselves to orchestrations recalling the famous Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaboration on Sketches of Spain.

Disc Two features the two artists in their natural setting, " . . . in a duet, . . . like having a conversation with a close friend," as Burton states in his liner notes. Recorded primarily at the Molde (Norway) Jazz Festival, the compositions are primarily by Corea, but include masterful interpretations of Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby," the standard "Sweet and Lovely," and the Gershwins' "I Love You Porgy."

One song is included in both orchestrated and "bare bones" versions, Corea's "La Fiesta." As befits jazz, each interpretation is different and each has its special delights. Only two songs from the original release, "Crystal Silence" and "Seņor Mouse," are reinterpreted here and provide a fascinating glimpse at the creative process of these two artists.

In much the same way as Burton revolutionized the art of vibraphone playing in his early days by using four mallets, Corea and Burton together revolutionized the art of duo performances in 1972. Three and a half decades later, they continue to show how musicians with taste, sensitivity and skill can create works of lasting beauty and intelligence.

Get more at www.chickcorea.com.