Chick Corea: The Montreux Years

The late pianist is heard in a set of previously unreleased music from 1981 to 2010 that focuses mainly on his acoustic work


Corea first played the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1972 and returned numerous times leading various bands, as well as appearing alongside other musicians and groups. This is a selection of Corea’s performances as leader or playing solo at the festival between 1981 and 2010, taken from the private collection of Montreux founder Claude Nobs and previously unreleased.

The first track is Fingerprints, recorded in 2001, the same year it was released on the Past, Present & Futures album. Opening with Corea’s complex and sporadic phrases, it has a fierce introduction encapsulating the raw energy of both the musicians and the festival itself.

Quartet No. 2 (Pt. 1) is the earliest recording on this release, taken from 1988 with the Akoustic Band, featuring John Patitucci on bass and Tom Brechtlein on drums. Over almost 12 minutes the trio create a vast, brooding piece, while emphasising the interplay between the musicians as well as Corea’s virtuosity.

Two tracks are taken from the 1993 performance, first the expressive solo piece Who’s Inside The Piano?, and the second, New Waltz, with Corea accompanied by Patitucci, Bob Berg on saxophone and Gary Novak on drums.

Throughout the album the sound quality is excellent, and the performances buoyed by the audience’s cheers and applause, particularly on the fourth track, Interlude. Performed by Corea and the Elektric Band, with Dave Weckl on drums and Patitucci on bass (and with Frank Gambale and Eric Marienthal sitting out), Corea leads a call and response with the audience.

The album leans toward Corea’s acoustic piano playing rather than his fusion work, but is nonetheless an essential listen for fans. Liner notes from Wulf Müller and John McLaughlin detail Corea’s profound influence and skill in the genre, and with an excellent collection of tracks, The Montreux Years captures the brilliance of one of modern jazz’s most influential figures.

Fingerprints; Bud Powell; Quartet No. 2 (Pt. 1); Interlude; Who’s Inside The Piano?; Dignity; America (Continents Pt. 4); New Waltz (74.09)
Corea (p, elp); and others. Montreux, 1981-2010.