Trilogy Review-Chick Corea, Christian McBride and Brian Blade at Symphony Center, Chicago

Chick Corea, keyboardist, composer and bandleader

On Friday, November 1, 2019 Chick Corea Trilogy, featuring pianist Chick Corea, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade, all giants of virtuosity in the jazz world, appeared at Symphony Center, Chicago, 220 S. Michigan, as part of the 89th season of the Symphony Center Presents Jazz Series. The trio gave the sold out audience a full, engrossing concert of jazz standards and eloquent improvisations including works from their brand new album, Trilogy 2, released last month.

Trilogy’s first album garnered 2 Grammy awards. Corea himself has been nominated for 64 Grammy awards, securing 22 wins. McBride has won 6 Grammys, and Blade has performed with such world class legendary musical figures as Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.

The setlist, with intermission and encore, included Corea’s A Spanish SongFingerprints, 500 Miles High and the piano solo La Fiesta; Sammy Fain’s sparkling jazz waltz Alice In Wonderland; highly synchronized renditions of Thelonius Monk’s Crepuscule With NellieWork and Blue Monk, and a tribute/blend of Dom(enico) Scarlatti’s works called improv/Sonata.

Christian McBride, jazz bassist

Friday night’s concert was characterized by long solos, complicated melodies, wondrous harmonics and a lot of colorful rhythmic beats as the three ultra integrated colleagues delivered a very special repertoire. It’s hard to imagine a smoother, more masterful pianist than the 78 years young Corea, whose fancy fingerwork coupled with his controlled, classical style meshed perfectly with his colleagues. 

McBride is a mesmerizing performer, smiling easily, engaging the audience in his stellar groove spinning. He appears to riff effortlessly with that sensuous left handed playing, and his interplay with Corea- sometimes styled as call and response- resulted in numerous levels and layers of tone.

Blade is another mellow fellow, his head bobbing gently to the music, his shoulders loose and pliant, striking vital syncopations, melding with the spun softness  of the piano and the murmurings of the bass. It was only in Fingerprints, inspired by Wayne Shorter’s jazz standard Footprints, that the trio became muscular and Blade segued into a jubilant, energetic, multiple rhythm solo.

Brian Blade, drummer and composer; photo by Lurahl Blade

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this beautifully curated concert was the obvious love these performers have for the music, so deeply rooted in a unique yet recognizably traditional jazz sound.

At the night’s end and encore, this superb trio invited the audience to participate in the music, with Corea playing scraps of melody and encouraging a breezy, joyful “scat” response.

For information and tickets to all the great programming of The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, go to www.cso.org

Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of the artists and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

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