Gary Burton and Chick Corea – Crystal Silence: The ECM Recordings 1972-79 ★★★★★

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Crystal SilenceECM

Gary Burton (vbs) and Chick Corea (p)

This four-CD set brings together Crystal Silence (1972), Duet (1978) and the live double album In Concert: Zürich, October 28, 1979, the latter two albums winning Grammy Awards and their first collaboration from 1972 selling in excess of 400,000 copies. Even some 30 years later, these albums retain their freshness, intensity and still manage to communicate the sheer joy of music making shared between Burton and Corea. Two virtuosos of their respective instruments, there are moments on each album when the level of creativity is such that it demands repeated listening, so compelling is their shared artistry.

The story begins with Crystal Silence when the two participants were brought together at the instigation of producer Manfred Eicher. What was originally intended as a one-off project quickly flowered into a meeting of minds. Superficially, this music dazzles. Burton, in particular, has never really been recognised for his jaw dropping virtuosity when the mood takes him. Yet this compelling virtuosic music has depth, a powerful duality that lends their collaborations here an enduring quality. That this delicately poised chamber jazz that could be transferred to the concert stage is demonstrated on the Zürich concert, which many argue is the highspot of their collaborations during this period. Burton would later comment how easy, joyful and inspiring it was to make music with Chick Corea, a process they would both claim was like thinking together. It is perhaps here that this most apt description of their music lies; the music is so compelling that from the opening ‘Señor Mouse’ you dare not boorishly interrupt the concert by moving on to another track or another album, but feel compelled to listen to every number and every twist and turn the music takes, to observe every nuance and filigree detail with an intensity that matches the performance. Music making of such a sustained high level of this deserves to be heard and heard again by fresh generations of listeners, for it is truly something special.

– Stuart Nicholson