2 LP on 1 CD
## 1-9 'Crystal Silence' 1972 (4*) ECM
For Crystal Silence, the first of several partnerships between Chick Corea and vibraphonist Gary Burton in the 1970s, the two musicians selected an interesting array of material. The compositions on this record are all modern ones, either by Steve Swallow, Mike Gibbs, or Corea himself. It is a mostly down-tempo affair, which allows each player to stretch out and play highly melodic solos over the often difficult changes. In keeping with most ECM releases, there is a distinct presence of European elements to the improvisations. There are few overt blues or bebop phrases, Corea and Burton opting instead for modern melodies to fuel their improvisations. Burton has managed to internalize the Spanish and modal implications of Corea's tunes with little difficulty, and solos with joyful ease through such tracks as "Seсor Mouse." Corea himself is absolutely burning. His solo contribution on the same track is both fiery and introspective, combining in one statement the poles for which he is best-known. The title track is also the centerpiece of the album, a nine-minute exploration of the Corea ballad that first appeared on his Return to Forever record in 1972. In keeping with the tradition of the great masters of the ballad form, time seems to disappear as Burton and Corea lovingly caress the song's simple melody and dance effortlessly around the chords, building intensity only to let it subside once more. Crystal Silence is a sublime indication of what two master improvisers can do given quality raw material, with the first side of this record being particularly flawless. Improvised music is rarely this coherent and melodic. Essential for fans of Corea, Burton, or jazz in general.
- Daniel Gioffre (All Music Guide)
## 10-16 'Lyric Suite For Sextet' 1982 (2.5*) ECM
Lyric Suite for Sextet reunites the Grammy-winning duo of vibraharpist Gary Burton and pianist Chick Corea, augmented this time by a string quartet. There's no denying the pair's technical proficiency creates some sparks, but the suite's abstruse melodies and discursive arrangements are daunting to follow. Like trying to catch a butterfly without a net, the opening "Overture" alights before listeners can pin it down, and what remains is a sensation of something sophisticated but ultimately elusive. The remaining sections are more spectres than songs, unwilling or unable to take a concrete form. A notable exception is "Brasilia," not coincidentally the one piece that favors melody over mathematics. Here and on "Dream" the strings are often out of the mix, allowing Burton and Corea to continue the relationship begun on albums like Duet. Similar to Frank Zappa's Jazz From Hell (which won a Grammy of its own in 1987, albeit in the rock category), Lyric Suite for Sextet may be too smart for its own good. No doubt Corea's work looked great on paper, but in performance it suggests the soundtrack to a PBS murder mystery (the apprehensive melodies and bittersweet subject matter are the main culprits here). If you enjoy jazz/classical hybrids, which are by their nature intellectual pursuits, than this music should pique your interest. However, better to think of this as a duet with some string support than a sextet of equal partners.
- David Connolly (All Music Guide)