Jazz-fusion lovers in Tarrytown, NY were treated to a treat on Saturday, November 6th, as the recently reunited Chick Corea Elektric Band brought their fiery and complex brand of instrumental mayhem to The Music Hall Theatre for two packed shows. Sea of Tranquility's Pete Pardo and Steve Fleck were in attendance.
Read on for the complete review.
As the band made their way onto the stage at 7:10, we were quick to notice that bassist John Patitucci was not onstage with the band, and indeed is not doing to the tour due to a prior commitment with the Wayne Shorter Acoustic Quartet. Filling in for John on this tour is bassist Ric Fierabracci, who quickly won the crowd over with his fleet fingered and melodic four-string work. In fact, Ric probably had a lot of work to do, seeing as he had to learn most of the new Elektric Band album To the Stars, which the band performed in its entirety, although without some of the little vignettes that are included on the CD.
For those who have never seen this band perform (it's been about 10 years since I had seen them live), they are one tight ensemble, that plays lightning fast, unison phrases and solos, all within a melodic framework that owes to jazz, rock, classical, Latin music, and prog rock. The band ripped into the opening scorcher from To the Stars called "Check Blast" with all the ferocity that the studio version contains, and then some. Recently head-shaved guitarist Frank Gambale traded some wicked lines with his mentor Corea's Fender Rhodes, as well as with sax player Eric Marienthal, while drummer Dave Weckl added thunderous accompaniment. Each musician has his turn to shine, as each piece was stretched out a bit here in the live setting to add in more virtuosity, as on numbers like "Johnny's Landing", "Alan Corday", and "The Long Passage". There was even a segment where Gambale picked up an acoustic guitar for a nice duet with Corea on the Grand Piano, which was quite lovely.
After just barely an hour, the band left the stage and was brought out for the lone encore, the classic "Got a Match?" from the very first Elektric Band album. This song brought the house down, as each player cranked out some complex & melodic unison lines for one powerhouse barnburner of a fusion tune. Each player is a virtuoso in this band-Gambale has the rock edge; Marienthal brings the emotional smooth jazz side; Corea the mix of classical, experimental, and traditional jazz; Weckl the fusion powerhouse, and newbie Fierabracci, well, he's just damn good! If you get a chance, catch these guys if you can. You'll be glad you did.