Chick Corea/Gary Burton: Lyric Suite For Sextet (1983)

Kronomyth 38.0: STRINGS ATTACHED. Yet another collaboration with vibraphonist Gary Burton, this time with a conspicuous classical string quartet in tow. Lyric Suite For Sextet looks and sounds like an ECM record: cerebral, atmospheric, depressing, cold (which, I realize, is more of a progression than a list of qualities). It would be simple enough to dismiss this as so much notiness if it weren’t for passages in “Waltz” where the piano and vibraphone are sublime together, and the entirety of “Brasilia,” which is simply one of the prettiest melodies that Chick has ever recorded. The idea of Corea as a modern classical composer isn’t unthinkable; jazzical (or would it be clazzical?) music has existed since Ellington. But this music is of the noisy modern variety (think Frank Zappa), with an overuse of dramatic tension to fill in the spaces. The third and fourth movements, for example, seem like little more than protracted exclamation points to me (who, we’ve already established, is an authority on nothing). I’ve dusted this album off periodically over the years, mostly when I’m in the mood for a challenge, and usually end up playing “Brasilia” a few more times before putting the record back on the shelf for another year or two. It’s not the first, second, fifth, tenth Chick Corea album you need to own, and probably not the first Corea/Burton collaboration you need either (Crystal Silence would seem the logical choice). And yet I’m rather protective of these exotic animals in my musical bestiary. We say we come to the look at the lions, but stare longest at the animals that are strangest.

Original LP Version
A1. Part 1 – Overture (6:25)
A2. Part 2 – Waltz (7:13)
A3. Part 3 – Sketch (For Thelonius Monk) (2:12)
A4. Part 4 – Roller Coaster (1:22)
B1. Part 5 – Brasilia (7:59)
B2. Part 6 – Dream (10:37)
B3. Part 7 – Finale (3:54)

Suite composed by Chick Corea.

The Players
Chick Corea (piano), Gary Burton (vibraharp), Ikwhan Bee (1st violin), Karen Dreyfus (viola), Fred Sherry (cello), Carol Shive (2nd violin). Produced by Manfred Eicher; engineered by Bernie Kirsh; mix engineered by Martin Wieland.

The Pictures
Cover photo by Hubertus Mall; design by Dieter Rehm.

The Plastic
Released on elpee in 1983 in the US (ECM/Warner Bros., 23797). Re-released on CD on August 15, 2000 in the US (ECM, 815 274).

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