Chick Corea | The Ultimate Adventure

The spirit of the original acoustic Return to Forever is writ large on these sessions, which despite the revolving cast of musicians on each track, were all recorded live at the Mad Hatter Studios in California with a minimum of overdubs. They reveal Corea’s love of Spanish and Latin rhythms which are far more explicit than the delicate Brazilian feel of the original band. Chick Corea | The Ultimate AdventureBut both Hubert Laws and Jorge Pardo on flute retain the light-as-a-feather feel and on several tracks Corea reminds us that he has no peer in drawing a wonderful sound from the Fender Rhodes piano through a combination of subtle voicings and impeccable touch. It’s a sound that combines compellingly with the flute, and although he uses acoustic piano and a smattering of keyboard washes, this album is a reminder that in the right hands, the Fender Rhodes can produce beautiful tones colours that today, after its ubiquity in the late 1960s and 1970s, is now an under exploited resource in jazz. A tone poem based on L. Ron Hubbard’s 1939 fantasy novel, Corea’s programatic writing evokes scenes and characters from the book The Ultimate Adventure. ‘Arabian Nights’ in two parts features Corea’s ability to come up with an unforgettable melody, featuring Frank Gambale on acoustic guitar, while ‘North Africa’ stretches from Spain to Arabia in its exotic rhythms. The two part ‘Flight From Karoof’ has drum master Steve Gadd, originally slated as a member of the electronic Return to Forever in the 1970s but whose aversion to touring meant he was replaced by Lennie White, in fine form. Maybe some of the vamps could have been edited down, but that’s just a small detail in what is Corea’s most interestingly conceived album in years.