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Jazz Titans Unite :: Gary Burton on his ’Hot House’ tour (with Chick Corea)

by Lewis Whittington
Contributor
Thursday Nov 8, 2012
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Jazz giants Chick Corea and Gary Burton are on tour playing tracks from their new CD "Hot House," which is starting to burn up the jazz charts. Corea, composer and pianist founded the seminal 70s band Return to Forever has been teaming up with Burton, a virtuoso on the vibraphone, every year for four decades. They will be in Philadelphia this week in Verizon Hall with the Harlem String Quartet, an ensemble accomplished in classical repertoire, but ready this evening for le jazz hot.

In a phone interview from Fort Lauderdale earlier this week, Burton said that the Harlem String Quartet is exactly what he and Corea have been musically looking for their repertoire of jazz classics featured on "Hot House" with its mix of legendary jazz composers including Antonio CarlosĀ Joabim, Thelonious Monk, Stan Getz, Bill Evans.

The duo will perform the remainder of the US concert dates with the quartet.

The ensemble recorded the Corea composition "Mozart Dances" on "Hot House" and Burton said they are planning to record an entire CD with them.

"Chick and I saw these musicians at a tribute concert honoring Chick’s music we both thought they were so great with jazz phrasing, that we both took notice immediately and we finally came up with something to work directly with them on. Last year we were beginning to work the music for this tour, recorded these tracks, have been on tour as a duo, and are doing the 20 US concerts with the Quartet. "


Different Style

For "Hot House" Burton and Corea wanted to do a different style of composer’s jazz standards album. "We picked music from the era when we were starting out as musicians. We thought of Joabim, whom we both were introduced to his music playing with Stan Getz. I was a member of Stan’s band for three years and when I left Chick was my replacement, so we both met with him during his international bossa nova success in the 1960s."

In concert, they will perform a rarity from Thelonious Monk with the classical players. "I knew Monk and played with him when I had my first band," Burton recalled. "We were looking for a tune that hadn’t been done much and Chick and I came across the tune ’Light Blue’ from the end of his career and he only played it himself once or twice, so right away attracted us. "

"We play the first section of the concert as a duo with mostly music from "Hot House" and the second half we have the String Quartet with us and we will play the song that they recorded with us ’Mozart Dancing’ and an arrangement of Monk’s ’Round Midnight’ which has proved to be a show stopper in concert, we’ve noticed. Then we have a few more pieces with them from a project Chick and I did with a string quartet 25 years ago that Chick wrote and we’ve revived a few of those pieces. "

"The music with the quartet has gone over really well with the audiences. We were curious mixing the classical format, course, a quartet make the music sing and they are just wonderfully accomplished musicians.


Interpreting the Beatles

Also popular is Corea’s jazz arrangement of Lennon/McCartney’s "Eleanor Rigby," which, Burton said "is taking off a bit and getting quite a bit of airplay on the jazz stations.

"It was Chick’s idea because he only recently discovered the Beatles. So I asked him how he missed them in the 60s. ’I was so busy with jazz, that I paid no attention to the rock world and just last year someone played me something and found out how interesting it was,’ he said. Chick wrote ’Mozart Dances’ at the last minute. Chick is a master at writing this type of material."

Burton acknowledges that they have a musical chemistry onstage that has lasted for four decades. "even from the beginning we had this high level rapport. It was so easy to anticipate what the other guy was going to play, We can play the most intricate things and sound like one musician," Burton assures.

The Hot House Tour with Chick Corea, Gary Burton and the Harlem String Quartet perform on Nov. 9 at |Verizon Hall, Philadelphia. For more information, visit the Kimmel Center website.


Lewis Whittington writes about the performing arts and gay politics for several publications.

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