Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White, 12/8/09

Saw Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White at the Hult Center in Eugene last night. More a nice end-of-term treat than anything: we went to it knowing very little about any of the players. I knew who Chick Corea is, but I'm embarrassed to say that I had only the vaguest idea, if any, about the two guys backing him up.

"Backing him up." Hah. So it turns out that in the real world, as opposed to the fog of ignorance the Tanuki inhabits like a cozy hole on a mountainside in Kyushu, Stanley Clarke is a rather well-known bass player. And Lenny White is widely recognized to be no slouch either. No surprise then that the Tanuki and Mrs. Sgt. were riveted to their seats.

This isn't a review of the concert: it won't go there, because I don't know their repertoire well enough to comment on how they played it. I can tell you they played two sets, each of which started out with what sounded like a standard, an up-tempo thing played in what seemed to me to be a standard post-bop style; from there they went into something slower, a ballad, and by the end of each set they were soaring on winds of pure melodic group improvisation. They were all acoustic last night, but it was clear that there was a '70s vibe going on in their music (and yes, I've heard of Return to Forever). In the second set I recognized one number, or thought I did, when they played what sounded like "All Blues" from Kind Of Blue. And the encore was (I gather) Corea's own standard "Spain," with the "Concierto de Aranjuez" intro. But I can't tell you if they played all of this better or worse than they usually do, if they were doing anything new in the contexts of their careers or not, or really much else.

Except that they took us places. Out of that cozy Kyushu hillside burrow and onto the high Venutian seas, sailing on a vessel of solid platonic truth with astral winds singing in the rigging, then on horseback through nebulae cantering, level with demigods, then stopping to contemplate smooth-polished stones on the bed of the river of heaven.

Or, uh, something like that. Good concert.

(Update: evidently they were in Singapore a few days before they played Eugene. This review is of that show, and it's much more informative than my review. It sounds like they might have played more or less the same numbers. But they weren't billed as "Power of Three" here. And, I add ruefully, the place wasn't anywhere near sold out.)

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