Chick Corea & Bela Fleck, 'Two' Double Disc Release on Concord Jazz (REVIEW)
In 2007, pianist Chick Corea and banjoist Bela Fleck teamed up for The Enchantment, which they promptly supported by touring together. Personal chemistry being what it was between these two grand masters, they continued to tour intermittently ever since. When Corea approached Fleck to produce a live album, he readily agreed. This meant culling through eight years of tapes, which Fleck did on an Oregon beach. When he had his favorites, he went over them with Corea. The result is Two, a double-disc of concert moments that show the pair incessantly tag teaming through a variety of their own classics plus well-chosen covers. It's a dizzying elongated listen with more notes than the brain can possibly fathom.
And that's the rub.
True, Corea and Fleck are in the running for being possibly the best living exemplars in the world today of piano and banjo, respectively. They're absolutely brilliant. However, "Brazil," "Spectacle," "Sunset Road," "Amando's Rhumba," "Senorita," "Menagerie," "The Climb" and 7 more take the brilliance into a kind of sameness and tedium after a while as the notes continue to cascade under, over, sideways and through non-stop. Tens of thousands of sprightly played notes at point-blank rapid-fire propulsion ultimately dissolves into a miasma of numbing awe. The best moments are when Corea stretches out for some gorgeous solo work. Ditto for Fleck. Then it's right back to that over-the-top simultaneous soloing for what seems like hours on end.
Still, those who prefer to be constantly dazzled can have their way when these maestros continue their tour in October in Richmond, Kentucky, Birmingham, Alabama, Atlanta, Georgia and Durham, North Carolina.