A sneak peek at Chick Corea’s last album, and new music from Orrin Evans, Gerry Gibbs, and Hilary Kole: Video, Photos

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Chick Corea Akoustic Band LIVE (teaser)

Before he died this February, Chick Corea had been planning to roll out a new concert album by his Akoustic Band, the trio he formed more than 30 years ago with bassist John Patitucci and drummer Dave Weckl. Recorded during a reunion tour in 2018 — at SPC Music Hall in St. Petersburg, Fla., near Corea’s home of Clearwater — it will now be stand as his first posthumous release, when it arrives Sept. 24 on Concord Jazz.

The album, simply titled Chick Corea Akoustic Band LIVE, will be issued on 2 CDs and in digital form. Today Concord has released a brief video teaser, featuring footage of the trio performing “Morning Sprite,” a tune that appeared on the first, self-titled Akoustic Band album in 1989. The teaser also includes some remarks by Corea, which can only ring bittersweet in light of his departure.

“You know, like they say about age: You get this other element that comes in,” he says. “You take your time a little bit more, there’s a little bit more thought that goes into the music, there’s a richness that comes into the music that all of us are really enjoying.”

Gerry Gibbs, Chick Corea, Ron Carter, “Bopstacle Course”

Chick Corea Akoustic Band LIVE may be Corea’s final scheduled release, but it isn’t his last recorded work. That distinction belongs to Songs From My Father, the new album by drummer Gerry Gibbs. As the title suggests, it’s an album of music largely composed by Gibbs’ father, vibraphonist and jazz legend Terry Gibbs, who’s now 96. Here is “Bopstacle Course,” a brightly swinging rhythm changes tune that originally appeared on his Xanadu album by the same name in 1974; this more relaxed new version features Corea on piano and Ron Carter on bass, along with Gerry Gibbs on drums.

Gerry Gibbs, Chick Corea, Ron Carter, “Bopstacle Course”
Songs From My Father, which Gary Walker is featuring as his “New Day, New Play” selection this week on Morning Jazz, is an object lesson in dauntless determination: an all-star affair that found Gerry Gibbs criss-crossing the country during a pandemic to record with several iterations of his Thrasher Dream Trio. (The other piano-and-bass pairings on the album are Kenny Barron with Buster Williams, Patrice Rushen with Larry Goldings, and Geoff Keezer with Christian McBride.) What makes Corea’s contribution special isn’t merely his passing, but also his enthusiasm: among the other tracks he plays on is a new original he brought to the project, “Tango For Terry.”

Orrin Evans, “Levels”

As you know if you follow Jazz Night in America, pianist Orrin Evans has been among the more resourceful jazz musicians during the COVID era. One of his many resilient offerings was a livestream at Smoke Jazz Club last December — now available as an album on Smoke Sessions Records called The Magic of Now, featuring Vicente Archer on bass, Bill Stewart on drums, and Evans’ fellow Philadelphia native Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone. Wilkins brought three of his own compositions to the session, including “Levels,” a mid-tempo piece in 5/4 time. After opening in an almost tentative fashion, the tune eases into gear, with smart solos by Wilkins and Evans. (Don’t miss the Lennie Tristano quote that Wilkins drops near the top of his.)

Hilary Kole, “Sophisticated Lady”

Songbook standards have long been a reliable vehicle for Hilary Kole’s artistry as a singer, but they haven’t always taken center stage on her albums. So there’s something refreshing about Sophisticated Lady, which finds her finessing material like “Old Devil Moon” and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.” The title track, by Duke Ellington, benefits greatly from a film noir arrangement by Chris Byars, who also plays clarinet on the tune; rounding out the ensemble are pianist Adam Birnbaum, vibraphonist Tom Beckham, guitarist John Hart, bassist Paul Gill and drummer Aaron Kimmel. As Kole explains in press materials for the album, she drew inspiration from her early experience in residence at The Rainbow Room, singing familiar fare that wouldn’t throw off a decent pickup band. “As I transitioned into more headline work and the worlds of jazz and cabaret, it became clear to me that it was important not to sing the ‘same songs’ that everybody knew,” she adds. “Nevertheless, the idea of going back to the basics has been calling to me lately. They are standards for a reason, after all.”

Keshav Batish, “Gayatri”

Drummer-composer Keshav Batish is just beginning to make his name in jazz circles, but judging by the ambition and assuredness of his debut album, Binaries in Cycle, broader recognition isn’t too far ahead. Recorded just over a year ago at Kuumbwa Jazz Center — in Santa Cruz, Calif., where Batish is currently finishing a masters in composition — the album features a sharp young ensemble with Lucas Hahn on piano, Aron Caceres on bass and Shay Salhov on alto saxophone. There’s one tune apiece by Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman, but the focus falls on Batish’s compositions, which draw on personal expertise. “Gayatri,” a standout, uses the cadence of a mantra from the Rigveda, a sacred Hindu text; listen for the moment just before the two-minute mark when Batish, a third-generation Indian musician, shifts the song into higher gear.

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