Sunday night I saw Chick Corea play with Gonzalo Rubalcaba at Blue Note jazz club in Greenwich Village. Chick is doing a residency at Blue Note for his 75th birthday party from October 19 thru December 11 which is incredible. Blue Note has even been advertising his residency as “The Greatest Jazz Birthday Party Ever.” I was skeptical of this branding, but it really was the greatest jazz birthday party ever, complete with Chick’s friends and wife, Gayle Moran, in the audience. The audience was also very into it–vocal and loud at the right times.
I don’t think there are two more fun pianists than Chick Corea and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Chick is just WILD. He’s a favorite of my mother who knows far more about jazz than me, but this does mean that I’ve been exposed to some cool stuff thanks to her. She and my dad have seen Chick a few times before together, and my mom has seen him play with a host of incredible musicians (including Herbie Hancock, Bela Fleck and Bobbie McFerrin to name a few). They were both still extremely impressed by his performance with Rubalcaba on Sunday. The two piano gods played a few loosely planned pieces but primarily improvised and jammed together. However, what was perhaps unplanned fell together into beautifully organized and composed pieces. Chick and Rubalcaba communicated with each other impeccably and filled each other’s silences flawlessly. It was pretty magical hearing the two grand pianos together, played by such incredible pianists. It often sounded like one four armed virtuoso was playing not two separate musical minds. It was also a beautiful sight, the two huge, shining black pianos on stage in the shape of a ying yang.
Some highlights of the night were Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind and Fire coming onstage to sing with Chick, “A Spanish Song” (not to be confused with “Spain”), and Gayle Moran coming onstage to sing 500 Miles High (he played 500 Miles High!!!). The crowd also broke into “Happy Birthday” for Chick which was very lovely.
It was a wonderful night! Listen to some Chick Corea and revel in his crazy, unique, out-of-control playing.