JJ 10/72: Chick Corea – Piano Improvisations Vol. l & Keith Jarrett – Facing You

Fifty years ago, Ron Brown hailed a new school of solo jazz piano and the most exciting piano albums he'd heard that year, despite Bill Evans. First published in Jazz Journal October 1972


Despite the efforts of CRD, the ECM label isn’t all that easy to get hold of, and it would be more than a shame if what seems to be a new school of solo jazz piano were to suffer through lack of exposure; for these are quite the most exciting piano albums I’ve heard this year, even allowing for the fact that a new Bill Evans LP appeared some months ago.

Chick Corea has turned out a beautiful, lyrical record, warm without being sentimental, gentle without being weedy, confident yet subtle. The eight-part suite is more varied than side one, probably embodies more improvisation, and includes one or two very brief sections which make use of effects like ‘under the lid’ playing.

Elsewhere, he indicates that he owes a harmonic debt to Bill Evans, while displaying several traces of the classical piano tradition that’s influenced them both.

In general Keith Jarrett seems to dig in harder, although his album is tinged throughout with Evans-related lyricism, and he almost plays the blues on the very stompy In Front. He therefore seems more within the tradition than Chick Corea, and this aspect of his work is probably one of the reasons why one British musician has dubbed him ‘the greatest jazz pianist since Art Tatum’.

There are times when his enormous enthusiasm causes him to cram too many notes into his right-hand lines on the ‘ballads’, slightly at odds with the prevailing mood, but this is a less satisfying factor, not the least.

The sole sleeve comment on Corea’s album is a quote from Chick: ‘This music was created out of the desire to communicate and share the dream of a better life with people everywhere’; as far as I’m concerned, he and Keith have both made it.

[Piano Improvisations (Vol. l)] Noon Song; Song For Sally; Ballad For Anna; Song Of The Wind; Sometime Ago (21½ min) – Where Are You Now – A Suite Of Eight Pictures (20 min)
Chick Corea (solo pno). Oslo, April 21 & 22, 1971.
(ECM 1014 ST £2.25)
[Facing You] In Front; Ritooria; Lalene (24½ min) – My Lady, My Child; Landscape For Future Earth; Starbright; Vapallia; Semblence (22½ min)
Keith Jarrett (solo pno). Oslo, 1971.
(ECM 1017 ST £2.25)