Tap Step (1980)

A nudge better than the recordings around it (Secret Agent, Touchstone) despite the silly costume. Drawing from a loose axis of familiar players, Corea presents seven new compositions that touch upon lighthearted funk, Latin music, cool jazz, and traces of fusion. In other words, Chick is still marching to the same pattern set forth on earlier albums, though the material this time is very good. Tap Step features no missteps, despite trying its hand at all manner of music. The opening “Samba L.A.” is unexpected, a gossamer samba both winsome and ethereal that serves as a cautious celebration (perhaps due to the lack of a low end that a bass player would have provided). “Embrace” is a lilting, pungent song featuring the vocals of Gayle Moran and a wonderfully sneaky arrangement from Chick. The march eventually arrives in “Tap Step,” given a distinctly jazzy flavor here. Side two begins with the delightful “Magic Carpet,” a piece that appeases both the sophisticated palette and the animal grace of jazz simultaneously. Squeaking and squawking herald “The Slide,” which Corea and Jamie Faunt (on piccolo bass) gingerly take up before immersing themselves in a remarkably rich rhythm. The playful “Grandpa Blues” features Chick on vocorder and Stanley Clarke contributing lead guitar-like lines from his piccolo bass (they must have rented one for the week). Tap Step ends on a serious note with the restless “Flamenco,” a noisy return to a style Corea has probably exhausted at this point. Add these seven tracks up and the sum total is surprisingly solid; not the sort of album to displace My Spanish Heart, but the kind of tasty fare that Corea fans can rally behind.

Original LP Version
A1. Samba L.A. (lyrics by Tony Cohan) (5:52)
A2. The Embrace (lyrics by Tony Cohan) (5:52)
A3. Tap Step (8:19)
B1. Magic Carpet (6:51)
B2. The Slide (6:47)
B3. Grandpa Blues (vocorder lyrics by Chick Corea) (4:03)
B4. Flamenco (3:34)

Music composed and arranged by Chick Corea.

The Players
Chick Corea (clavinet, OBX, Moog 55, acoustic piano, Rhodes, Minimoog, wood block, vocorder, handclaps), Don Alias (congas, lya drums), Tom Brechtlein (drums), Bunny Brunel (fretless bass), Joe Farrell (tenor & soprano sax), Al Vizzutti (trumpet, flugelhorn) with Nani Villa Brunel (vocals on A1), Stanley Clarke (piccolo bass, talk box on B3), Jamie Faunt (piccolo bass on B2), Shelby Flint (vocals on A1), Joe Henderson (tenor sax on B4), Hubert Laws (flute, piccolo), Gayle Moran (vocals), Airto Moreira (snare drum, tamborim, whistle, drums, pandero, cuica), Laudir Oliviera (surdo, agogo, ganza, tamborim), Flora Purim (vocals on A1). Produced by Chick Corea; engineered & mixed by Bernie Kirsh; mixing assistance by Mark Ettel.

The Pictures
Photography by Jim McCrary; art direction by Peter Whorf.

The Plastic
Released on elpee in 1980 in the US (Warner Bros., BSK 3425), the UK and Germany (Warner Bros., K 56801) and Japan (Warner Bros., P-10815W); reached #170 on the US charts and #8 on the US Jazz charts. Re-released on CD on February 18, 1997 worldwide (Stretch, SCD-9006).

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