Repackaged Classics

Crystal Silence: The ECM Recordings 1972-79 (ECM)
Gary Burton and Chick Corea

By Martin Z. Kasdan, Jr.

Much as the Gary Burton Quartet with Larry Coryell ushered in a new era of jazz-rock fusion in the 1960s, so did Gary Burton and Chick Corea redefine the concept of jazz chamber music in the 1970s. Until the time of their 1972 album Crystal Silence, such music was best exemplified by artists such as the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Burton and Corea sculpted the essence of the sound from a quartet to a duo format, with Burton's virtuoso vibraphone playing and Corea's highly melodic, frequently Spanish-tinged piano work. They went on to release two more albums in this decade, Duet and In Concert, Zurich, October 28, 1979. ECM has now packaged these recordings into a modestly priced four-CD set, in the process restoring two solo pieces to the prior one-CD version of In Concert (it was originally released as a two-LP set).

From the opening notes of the first recording to the closing notes of the last, the empathy these two artists have for each other is apparent. Crystal Silence begins with Corea's now classic "Señor Mouse," which also is the opening song on In Concert.

Indeed, the growth of these artists, both individually and as a duo, is fascinating to trace through this set. The only drawback to this set is minor: The beautiful color covers to the original albums have been replaced by gray thumbnails in the booklet; the individual disc covers, like the box cover, are simple black letters on white cardboard.

Nonetheless, the color of the music is far more important than the visual aspects. If you have these albums on CD already, the only "bonus" material is the aforementioned restored pieces from the vinyl live record. The excellent liner notes refer to the fact that Burton and Corea have continued to tour together; last year they released New Crystal Silence, reviewed here in April 2008.

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