Contemporary Jazz

Head To The Hot House


How to celebrate a dynamic jazz partnership of 40 years that includes lots of down time but always picks up where it leaves off? For legends Chick Corea and Gary Burton, it's a trip to the Hot House, their first dual Concord set since the 2008 live double CD The New Crystal Silence. If that triumphant recording completed something of a full circle from their first dual album Crystal Silence (1972), Hot House is the next step of what Burton calls the "natural reaction" that happens when they collaborate.

Throughout the ten track set, the piano great and vibraphone master intricately explore and improvise from a mix of a few well known ("Eleanor Rigby") but mostly obscure songs (Art Tatum's "Can't We Be Friends") from a batch of their favorite composers from the '40s to the '60s. Sometimes they're faithful to the song's original arrangement (maintaining Tatum's stride swing feel, for instance), and other times, they dart on joyous adventures -- as when they find the frenzy in the wistful sadness of The Beatles classic.

They take a luxurious 10-plus minutes to tap into the moodswings of "Chega de Saudade," a Jobim tune they each learned during their respective runs with Stan Getz in the '60s. They return to Jobim later in the set with a mystical meets whimsical romp through "Once I Loved." Others on the agenda include Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck and Thelonious Monk's little known "Light Blue," which inspired Corea to compose a second chorus of his own.

The duo goes classical on the dramatic Corea composition "Mozart Goes Dancing," recorded with the Harlem String Quartet. Burton says it's a preview of what they duo will be doing next year -- but it was too "hot" not to include.