Live In Cannes 1978
All Music Guide
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One may say that the meeting between Chick Corea and Lionel Hampton in 1978 might seem an unusual one, as the then 70 Hampton was touring around the world with his orchestra, delivering a solid swing and boogie show, while Corea (who yet had to turn 40) was in love with those electronic sounds he recorded on various albums with synths, moogs and electric guitars. These two worlds may seem distant, but the evolution and careers of the two musicians plead for their versatility in jazz music. In fact Lionel Hampton played the drums and the piano besides singing and playing his beloved vibes, which he first debuted on in 1930 soloing on the song Memories Of You with Louis Armstrong's band. Praised by Benny Goodman, he'd afterwards set up his famous quartet with Teddy Wilson on piano, and Gene Krupa on drums, starting also to record as a leader with session men drawn from the best big band of the moment: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, Cab Galloway. In 1940 he founds his first orchestra, a band that would never split until his death, in 2002. Many musicians who would become jazz stars would play with his orchestra: Clifford Brown, Quincy Jones, Art Farmer, Illinois Jacquet, Arnett Cobb, Dexter Gordon, Charlie Mingus and many others. Chick Corea thirsty years younger followed a much more varied path. He debuted in the '60s in those latin-jazz bands led by percussionists Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo and Cai Tjader, and only later got to play a more classical jazz, as with trumpeter Blue Mitchell. In the mid '60s Gary Burton suggested he joined the Stan Getz quartet, and in 1968 he records Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, a new masterpiece in trio jazz music. His first approach towards electronic music comes with Miles Davis, who hires him for his group for In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew where Corea plays the Fender Rhodes. That also gave birth to the so-called fusion as he leaves Davis and founds his own bands: Circle, a trio and then a quartet playing avant-garde with Anthony Braxton, Dave Holland and Barry Altschul, followed in 1972 by Return To Forever, and mixing jazz-rock with bossa nova for some years. Corea would however record some important solo works, later, like Piano Improvisations, and going back and forth between his Elektrik and Akoustic bands until the end of the '90s. It's thus obvious why their 1978 Midem meeting in Cannes (during the annual discography world fair) would score high. Hampton here lightly steps on modern compositions like Corea's Sea Breeze, half-modal and half-spanish or Moment's Notice by John Coltrane, where the two masters appear inspired, creative and happy. Some typically "swinging Hampton" moments include It Don't Mean A Thing by Ellington, Blues For Oliver for Oliver Jackson, who also plays here and / Ain't Mad At You, where the two duel in a sort of boogie-woogie improvised by Hampton's voice. Corea also goes solo for Come Rain Or Come Shine, with his wife Gayle Moran on vocals, and for La Fiesta, a great hit of his to conclude this French gig in a roar of applause from an enthusiast audience.
-Matteo (Piazza, March 2003)