Contemporary Jazz

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A Beautiful Duet

12 MAR 09 JONATHAN WIDRAN

Over 40 years after his first tour of Japan with Stan Getz, legendary pianist Chick Corea teamed up with 30-year-old Japanese virtuoso Hiromi for an incredible 2007 performance at Tokyo's Blue Note that fully celebrates the meaning of the word used to name the resulting live double concert CD: Duet.

In his brief but colorful liner notes, Corea describes the electrifying energy of the occasion in numerical terms: 1 night, 2 pianos, 2 sets, 4 hands, 12 songs, 20 fingers, 176 keys, about 600 people in the audience and thousands of exchanged musical ideas. To offer a perspective on how long it's been since he's done an acoustic piano duo recording of this freewheeling nature, the last time he did it -- with Herbie Hancock for 1978's In Concert at the Budokan -- Hiromi wasn't even born.

A truly compelling masterwork bridging generations and cultures, Duet's first disc features a single original by each pianist (Corea's wistful and frenetic "Humpty Dumpty," Hiromi's lush, classical-jazz hybrid "Déjà Vu") and four covers from a wide range of genres, including distinctive renderings of classics by Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Antonio Carlos Jobim and The Beatles.

The second disc offers two originals each, plus a gorgeously re-imagined and re-harmonized "Summertime" and an expansive medley of Joaquin Rodrigo's 1939 classical guitar and orchestra composition "Concierto de Aranjuez" with Corea's own classic, "Spain." Hiromi first played with Corea as a 17 year old, and the two followed the 2007 Japanese release of Duet with another dual performance, this one before 5,500 at the Budokan.

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