Aside from being legendary multiple Grammy-winning jazzmen on very different instruments, Chick Corea (piano) and Béla Fleck (the world's premier jazz banjo master) have a shared love for collaboration and the infinite improvisational possibilities their chosen idiom offers them. In some ways, the two have been preparing for this masterful, musical dialogue-driven masterpiece for over ten years. Fleck, who has always credited Corea as being one of his chief influences, invited the pianist to play on the Flecktones' Tales from the Acoustic Planet, as well as the group's live CD Live Art. Some years later, in 2001, Corea found a spot for Fleck on his Rendezvous in New York DVD. Later, they toured as a duo, making the unique recording of The Enchantment an inevitable artistic extension of their on-stage chemistry.
The second album of Elektric Band, "Light Years" is more funk-oriented than its predecessor. Saxophonist Eric Marienthal joins the band and Frank Gambale replaces Henderson and Rios (who plays still on some tracks) to form what is considered the band's definitive lineup.
Chick Corea was involved in a wide variety of projects during the early 1980s, some acoustic, others electric, and everything from solos and duets to orchestral projects. Touchstone really displays quite a bit of diversity with features for flamenco guitarist Paco DeLucia, a one-song ("Compadres") reunion of Return to Forever (with guitarist Al DiMeola, bassist Stanley Clarke, and drummer Lenny White), a spot for alto-great Lee Konitz ("Duende"), and a conventional sextet outing on "Dance of Chance." A bit uneven but with its interesting moments, Touchstone is worth checking out.
Not all of the installments in the Verve Jazz Masters series contain material originally issued on Verve. Verve Jazz Masters 3, for example, consists of 14 examples drawn from seven Chick Corea LPs released on the Polydor label during the years 1972-1978. Six of these come from Corea's Return to Forever period. The backbone of this collection (tracks one, seven, ten and fourteen) are selections from the highly acclaimed album Light as a Feather (1972) and there are excerpts from Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (1973) and No Mystery (1975). The other eight titles are traceable to Corea's theatrically costumed and somewhat heavy-handed production albums The Leprechaun (1975), My Spanish Heart (1976), Friends (1978) and The Mad Hatter (1978)…
At times on Dirty Deal, it's virtually a Little Feat reunion, with five members from the classic lineup helping out on "Three Sides to Every Story," giving it a wonderful, funky momentum. Coco Montoya himself is definitely a better-than-average guitarist and singer when it comes to the R&B/blues axis, although he's at his best on tracks like "How Do You Sleep at Night?" where he has the chance to pull more emotion from his instrument; in this case, more than a touch of bitterness. He's cut from the same cloth as Robert Cray, but without the same soulful subtlety. Montoya is more a shot and a beer than a smooth cocktail. You come away from this with the sense that he holds nothing back, and even a performance in the studio would be sweaty; there's that amount of commitment. And while he may not be one of the guitar gods, when he unleashes a flurry of notes (as on "It Takes Time") he's still a powerhouse. Perhaps the biggest problem is that, although he cranks in all departments, there's very little to really distinguish his music from many others mining the same seam.