Chick Corea (piano/keyboards), John McLaughlin (guitar), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Kenny Garrett (sax), and Christian McBride (bass)...I could probably end this review right there and not go any further and most jazz and fusion fans will be ready to run out and purchase this All-Star Band live album. Oh yeah, and if these musicians weren't enough, how about a guest appearance on "In A Silent Way / It's About That Time" by none other than Herbie Hancock? Are you sold now?
Corea and McLaughlin go way back to the late 60's when they both played with Miles Davis on his Bitches Brew album, as well as a few other of the trumpet legends releases around that time period, before they both went off to further stardom with Return to Forever and The Mahavishnu Orchestra, two of the leading fusion bands of the 1970's. Though the two remained friends and worked with each other sporadically, they never really had a chance to form a band together...until now. Five Peace Band sees the two legends coming together, along with Colaiuta, Garrett, and McBride, to create a world class jazz fusion band for the modern age. This ensemble doesn't try to outdo either RTF or Mahavishu, instead they take a more traditional jazz approach and throw in moments of rock energy, for a sound that harkens back to the 60's yet still sounds modern.
The eight lengthy songs included here were recorded live on the band's European tour in the Fall of 2008. Plenty of groove and space for soloing throughout these pieces, most written by either Corea of McLaughlin, and all the players shine in a big way. McLaughlin lets loose plenty of fiery torrents on "Raju", his style these days more reminiscent of players like Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, or John Scofield, as he injects a rather earthy, blues-jazz feel when compared to his superhuman speed feats of the 70's. Not to worry, the guy can still burn, though he's less reliant on blazing runs and more concerned with feel and emotion here, yet his solos are nicely touched with the slightest bit of distortion and he regularly hits the whammy bar for added effect. Also of note on this one are the exhuberant flights from Garrett, one of today's brightest sax stars. "The Disguise" is a Corea penned tune with plenty of jazzy swing to it, the keyboard ace laying down lots of textures and the rest of the band grooving alongside of him. On "New Blues, Old Bruise", there's a slight Elektric Band feel to the tune, Chick churning out a vast array of tasty Fender Rhodes and synth explorations as only he can, while Colaiuta & McBride lock down the tight rhythms and Garrett soars with some emotional melodies on his sax. At about the mid-way point McLaughlin bursts into the fray with a groove laden barrage that shows he's still got plenty of technique and fire up his sleeve. The closing piece on CD1 is the near 28 minute "Hymn To Andromeda", a real jazzy piece with some wonderful, yearning acoustic bass lines from McBride before the rest of the band launches into intriguing passages of avant-garde styled mayhem, Garrett squonking away alongside Corea's majestic piano and McLaughlin's off-kilter chords and linear phrasings. Wild stuff!
CD2 kicks off with the charming "Dr. Jackle", a real vehicle for Corea and his patented piano playing, as well as plenty of funky solos from McLaughlin. "Senor C.S" is an atmospheric jazz number which sees McBride really burning with some furious bass lines over Corea's spacey Fender Rhodes, and the band is joined by Hancock on their rendition of the classic "In A Silent Way / It's About That Time ". This is about as big a treat for jazz fans as you can get, with Hancock, Corea, and McLaughlin all on stage at the same time.The band goes from quiet and majestic to a really kicked up groove on this one, and it's a pleasure to hear all these musicians really giving it their all and wowing the audience. Hearing Garrett covering all the Wayne Shorter parts here and really doing them justice is quite inspiring. The band closes with the jazz classic "Someday My Prince Will Come" in grand fashion, Corea's gorgeous piano laying the groundwork for McLaughlin's fluttering lead guitar, a perfect end to a wonderful live recording.
Here's hoping that Corea, McLaughlin, and Co. decide to give us more amazing music should their schedules permit. The Five Peace Earth Band is the real deal, and it was certainly worth the wait to finally get these two jazz giants to put something together of this magnitude. Bravo!
1. Raju 12:29
2. The Disguise 13:32
3. New Blues, Old Bruise 14:06
4. Hymn To Andromeda 27:45
1. Dr. Jackle 22:53
2. Senor C.S. 20:15
3. In A Silent Way / It's About That Time 20:06
4. Someday My Prince Will Come 7:42