Five Peace Band Live (Concord Records)
Chick Corea & John McLaughlin Five Peace Band
Released April 28, 2009
Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album 2010
Chick Corea and John McLaughlin revolutionized the sound of jazz in the 1970s, building on Miles Davis’ breakthroughs with a new language of powerful, unfailingly musical albums with Return to Forever and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. When they joined forces fronting their new band in 2011, they took that sense of adventure into the new century.
John and I have so many musical tastes and experiences that we share. Shortly after meeting each other for the first time in NYC (’69), when John came from England to play with Tony Williams, we found ourselves at Columbia recording studios with Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Zawinul and other great musicians recording the musical experiments that became In A Slient Way and Bitches Brew. Since that time we’ve always stayed in touch and talked about someday making some music together. Through the years, this happened only a few times, sitting in with one another and recording together a few times, but not until this project have we gotten around to really developing some music together.
The “Five Peace Band” is a dream band for me—playing with some of my favorite musicians of all time.
I decline to attempt to describe this music or give it a name. But I will say that it’s a music that is made by five musicians who don’t care about what it’s called or where it comes from or what are its “influences.” I will also say that we’ve just scratched the surface of what more might be done with this collaboration. So, humbly offered (but not so humbly played) is a selection of the performances from our first outing—22 concerts throughout Europe, fall of 2008.
My thanks and admiration to John, Kenny, Christian and Vinnie for making these concerts a joy to be a part of.
I first heard Chick play in 1967. It was on an album from percussionist Montego Joe. I was so impressed with Chick’s playing I kept telling all of my musician friends about him, and that he would soon be with Miles Davis. My prophecy was correct. By 1968 he was in Miles’ band. In January of 1969 we met for the first time at the recording of Miles Davis’ pivotal album In a Silent Way. It was a real thrill to be with Miles, but a special pleasure to meet and play with Chick because of my own predictions about him earlier. We soon became fast friends, and in addition to sharing musical experiences with Miles, we shared our experiences in the search for new ways of thinking and being. As time passed we both founded “new form” groups, the most celebrated being Chick’s “Return to Forever” and my own “Mahavishnu Orchestra.” Over the years we have played together, but for the most part in duo. We haven’t really played so often together, but even so we’ve developed a certain complicity in the duo form that I’ve never found anywhere else. 5 Peace Band is an exception to all of the above. The idea is Chick’s. Furthermore, his selection of the other musicians in the band — Kenny, Christian and Vinnie—was impeccable. The only thing I gave to the creation of the band was its name! We have already made a big tour of the European continent, and to play with Chick and the guys every night is a continuous thrill. Chick is simply one of the greatest musicians of our time, who surprises me constantly, and inspires me every night. I hope you hear some of these sentiments in the music of this CD.
1. Raju (John McLaughlin) 12:29
2. The Disguise (Chick Corea) 13:32
3. New Blues, Old Bruise (John McLaughlin) 14:06
4. Hymn to Andromeda (Chick Corea) 27:45
1. Dr. Jackle (Jackie McLean) 22:53
2. Señor C.S. (John McLaughlin) 20:15
3. In a Silent Way/It’s About That Time (Miles Davis / Joe Zawinul)
featuring: Herbie Hancock 20:06
4. Someday My Prince Will Come (Frank Churchill / Larry Morey) 7:42
Chick Corea: piano, keyboards
John McLaughlin: guitar
Kenny Garrett: saxophone
Christian McBride: acoustic and electric basses
Vinnie Colaiuta: drums
Herbie Hancock: piano (CD2, 3)
Recorded October 22 – November 23, 2008, in Europe
Produced by Chick Corea and John McLaughlin
Recorded by Bernie Kirsh and Sven Hoffman
Mixed by Brian Vibberts
Mastered by Bernie Grundman
Cover Illustration: Bob Masse
Art Direction: Julie Rooney
Superstar collaborations often look good on paper but don’t pan out in reality, so it’s a real pleasure to see that the pairing of two modern legends—keyboardist Chick Corea and guitarist John McLaughlin—is far more than some marketing representative’s wet dream. Teaming with three younger players who add their own cachet—saxophonist Kenny Garrett, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta—Five Peace Band Live captures the group on the first leg of a nearly year-long tour, hot on the heels of Corea’s much-lauded Return to Forever reunion, documented on Returns (Eagle Records, 2009). While FPB Live isn’t as pedal-to-the metal fusion as Returns, there’s no shortage of high-octane playing, as the quintet works through a number of originals, a couple of standards and a fine tribute to Miles Davis, who brought Corea and McLaughlin together for the first time 30 years ago on In a Silent Way(Columbia, 1969). Comparing FPB with McLaughlin’s 4th Dimension group, the two tracks covered by both bands yield significant differences. The fiery “Raju” doesn’t change much, though Garrett nearly blows the roof off whatever venue it was recorded in, lending considerably more weight to the song. Colaiuta and McBride are equally powerful, while Corea’s personality gives the tune some additional harmonic movement.
“Senor C.S.,” on the other hand, is reimagined as a high velocity samba, beginning with a Corea/McLaughlin duet that demonstrates the simpatico bond that makes this pairing long overdue. Despite McLaughlin’s lightning-fast yet always lyrical delivery, it recalls Corea’s early, Latin-esque Return to Forever—although the late Joe Farrell never played with as much unbridled passion as Garrett, who comes close to stealing the show from Corea and McLaughlin on more than one occasion. Meanwhile, “New Bruise, Old Blues,” from Industrial Zen (Verve, 2006), is as funky as FPB gets, with one of Corea’s most visceral synth solos of the set.
If McLaughlin’s tunes are more fusion-centric, Corea’s two contributions take FPB closer to the modern mainstream, with “The Disguise” more down-the-middle, but proof- -as if any was needed—that McLaughlin can still work that turf with ease. “Hymn to Andromeda” begins freely, Corea working in and out of the piano box as McBride enters to deliver a poignant arco solo before the rest of the group joins to gradually move into modal territory, with Garrett delivering another set highlight, gradually building his solo as the band coalesces and intensifies behind him.
Alongside a quirky rearrangement of Jackie McLean’s “Dr. Jackle” and a closing Corea/McLaughlin duet on “Someday My Prince Will Come,” the group pays tribute to Miles on a lengthy, more open-ended rework of “In a Silent Way/It’s About That Time,” with Herbie Hancock guesting to create an ethereal electric piano cushion before the band enters in the more propulsive second half, with McLaughlin proving himself as able an accompanist as he is an evocative soloist.
Running the gamut from straight-ahead to balls-out fusion, Five Peace Band Live is a rare opportunity to hear two masters create something that references both of their careers but combines to create something with its own distinct personality.
John Kelman (All About Jazz)