Review Summary: The Primice of a Piano Legend
At the age of 26, in 1968, Chick Corea had already developed a strong affinity for Afro-Cuban jazz while working with Mongo Santamaria and Sonny Stitt, among others. He composed and organized an album dimension as Blue Bossell's “Boss Horn”, saw his compositions recorded by names like Hubert Laws, Donald Byrd or Stan Getz, and even launched his first work as a leader, who received the title of one of those songs on Mitchell's album, “Tones for Joan's Bones”.
Corea was enchanting all those who came into contact with his music, with his talent, vitality, virtuosity and a new perspective on the composition and development of the pieces; this perspective had points in common with the explorations of the John Coltrane quartet and, in particular, with McCoy Tyner's style, but Corea's vision ended up including some other stylistic appendages; this album shows several ways to reshape these concepts.
Consisting of just five tracks, the album launches a dizzying speed of hard-bop virtuosity for the almost 14 minutes of Steps - What Was; in the second part after the drum solo, Corea flirts with fragments and outlines what would become a Return to Forever song called Spain, both with openly similar melodies and their harmonic and rhythmic complexity. Then, Matrix, continuing the adventures in hard-bop, was rehearsed in a conventional manner, producing an abundant harvest of study material, recognized spontaneously created by improvisation at the top and around mere sketches, still using a rhythm influenced by Latin music.
In the title track, the pianist alternatively conveys joy and sadness with large open intervals or with minor and altered, closed and altered chords; his control of harmony is enhanced with classic impressionist instincts in Now He Beats the Drum, Now He Stops, conveying aggressiveness or lyricism, before Vitous and Haynes enter the middle of the piece for more than 10 minutes and without interfering in the pianist's music . Changing moods and transforming abstraction into organic pulsations installs a common vision that allows them to change their mood or with the snap of a finger to revert to it.
Finally, The Law of Falling and Catching is an avant-garde work of just two and a half minutes, played directly on the piano strings, along with the bass, wooden instruments, sweeping bells, fast rounds of pizzicato and drum rolls. A brief and somewhat painful piece, but it is nonetheless impressive and, if not clarified, it is definitely original.
In 1999, the single Now He Sings, Now He Sobs joined the Grammy Hall of Fame - this consists of honoring songs with great significance and great historical importance. The album was produced by Sonny Lester, the creator of Solid State Records, who released musicians like Dizzy Gillespie or Joe Williams.
All in all, "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" is an excellent album and essential for anyone who is a fan of Chick Corea in all his stylistic incarnations. The musicality of all the players is first rate. Corea is in perfect shape and the setlist is varied and full of beautiful melodies in and out of complex improvisations with this skill.
This style of jazz is particularly difficult in a trio scenario, where there are no metals to add muscle and intensity to the songs, but here, Corea, Miroslav Vitous on bass and Roy Haynes on drums provide all the muscle needed to make the necessary and powerful statements . The best part is that, for each display of this strength, there are also equally delicate and beautiful displays.