Chick Corea and Friends Jazz Up Zellerbach

Rock the cowbell with Nathan at [email protected]

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Fourteen Grammys and forty

years later: Oh, yeah. He’s still

got it.

At this point, talent is a given, but

the stage presence that makes pianistcomposer

Chick Corea astounding to

watch. His genius hides beneath a jolly

countenance that exudes out of his fingertips

to tickle the ivories with rhythmic

dexterity. This year has already been

a huge one for Chick, having won the

National Endowment for the Arts Jazz

Master Fellowship, the highest honor

for an American jazz musician.

Seeing Corea and the Touchstone

band’s live performance—a fusion of

Latin, classical, duende and, of course,

jazz—surpassed all expectation. The

piano rolled in conversation with the

distinct sound of Carles Benavent’s

bass and Tom Brechtlein’s drums,

pumping new life into Zellerbach

Hall’s austere gray blocks.

The show was not only inspired

musically but visually as well, with the

stunning grace and movement of flamenco

dancer Auxi Fernandez. She

slowly writhed with snake-like twists,

if charmed by the flute of Jorge Pardo.

However, Brazilian percussionist

Rubem Dantas was the most fun to

watch. His shaggy mane and eccentric

onstage behavior added an emotional

rawness to the

group’s performance.

Pure energy

flowed from his

excited yelps and

tribal dances that

included everything

from clapping

to popping

with his mouth to

pounding his


The show consisted


entirely of new

material inspired by the stories of L.

Ron Hubbard. The songs reveal a kind

of Spanish “Arabian Nights” story, with

track names like “Moseb the

Executioner” and “Flight from Karoof.”

The most memorable selections included

opening number “North Africa” as

well as “Spain.” The latter has become

jazz standard, rippling with exotic influences.

Corea was generous enough to

include this in the encore with a new

electric rendition, taking the audience

back in time to ninth-century Spain,

where Arabian and African influences

dominated both life and music.

Whether on the electric, the standard

or the cowbell, Chick Corea sparked

both the crowd and the other members

of Touchstone with his smiling affability.

A true virtuoso’s mere presence makes

everyone playing with him better—that’s

exactly what Corea did. Although these

players are considered masters of their

musical trade, everything became a

learning experience all over again with

the jazz icon onstage, bringing the

music to new heights. This infectious

attitude has earned Corea awards and

accolades throughout his long career,

well as the general consensus that he

living legend.

The late Miles Davis, Corea’s longtime

advisor and collaborator, once said,

“A legend is an old man with a cane

known for what he used to do. I’m still

doing it.” With all due respect to His

Coolness, Chick Corea proves that you

can be a legend without the cane. The

flexibility, the freshness and, most

importantly, the curiosity Corea had

forty years ago was still apparent on

Saturday night. Luckily for us, he shows

no signs of slowing down.


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