Past, Present & Futures
is the latest of an extraordinary string of acoustic hardcore jazz recordings by Chick Corea on Stretch, his signature label, that feature the iconic pianist-composer at the top of his form. Now 60, Corea is completely in tune with his thirtyish bass-drum team of Avishai Cohen
and Jeff Ballard, who have played hundreds of gigs with Corea since 1997 as members of his sextet Origin; they navigate 10 recently composed Corea originals and Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz" in a joyous, interactive set that embodies the spirit of exploration and stretching-out, prodigious technique completely at the service of thought. For example, on "Fingerprints," a variant on Wayne Shorter
's "Footprints," the pianist flies over a turbulent Latin groove, springboarding Cohen into a fleet, harmonically cogent solo with rhythmic twists and turns that spur Ballard into beautiful patterns that morph into a Corea-Ballard unison sequence. That spirit continues through "Cloud Candy," a medium blues with an insinuating melody; into "Dignity," an extended form waltz with a nachtmusik motif that appears to be in two sections; all the way through to the concluding "Life Line," a long form piece based on a call-and-response motif over a surging clave that inspires Corea to spin out lucid, endlessly imaginative melodies. We commented last year that Corea's concurrent solo piano recitals, Standards
were "de facto meditations on jazz tradition refracted through a personality that unfailingly gazes at the stars." You might describePast, Present & Futures
as a de facto speculation on the future bedrocked on an unflinching dialogue with the past and an unwavering commitment to the imperative of creating truth and beauty in the here and now.