[Review] Chick Corea: Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (1968)

A nice balance of heart and brain, featuring an acoustic trio with Roy Haynes and Miroslav Vitous.

Kronomyth 2.0: Now we’re talking.

I tend to divide Chick Corea’s music into one of three categories: early fusion, early trio music and everything else. Now He Sings. Now He Sobs is the first of the early trio albums, featuring Roy Haynes on drums and Miroslav Vitous on acoustic bass. It’s here that listeners are introduced to the real Chick Corea: the complex writing, the prolix playing, the Latin themes. The opening “Steps – What Was” starts out as intellectual stuff but, midway through, shifts into one of those sublime, timeless Latin melodies that will be instantly recognizable to fans. This and “Now He Sings – Now He Sobs” could be considered the first classic Corea compositions for their blending of melody and complexity. The remaining pieces are notey, daunting, occasionally breathtaking but more often exhausting. Haynes and Vitous adopt unconventional stances throughout the record: Haynes with his rattling rim playing, Vitous with his sticky fingerstyle.

What I enjoy about the early trio albums is their general fearlessness and transparency. The listener has the sense that they’re looking over Chick Corea’s shoulder, synchronized with him in the act of creation as new possibilities in the music are revealed, explored, abandoned, revisited. As exciting as that is, there are quite a few passages where it feels like Corea, Haynes and Vitous are off doing their own thing; maybe that’s just an aspect of their artistry that I don’t fully appreciate. Also, while I’m being honest, I’ve always found Miroslav Vitous to be an acquired taste, which I’m still in the process of acquiring. So, in summary, Now He Sings is half an album of classic Corea trio music and half an album of exploratory jazz punctuated by a wonderful question mark (“The Law of Falling And Catching Up”) at the end. In the 1980s, Blue Note repackaged this with the remaining tracks from the original sessions, many of which had turned up on earlier compilations such as Inner Space and Circling In.

Original LP Version

A1. Steps – What Was (13:53)
A2. Matrix (6:29)
B1. Now He Sings – Now He Sobs (7:05)
B2. Now He Beats The Drums – Now He Stops (10:40)
B3. The Law of Falling And Catching Up (2:28)

1988 Expanded Blue Note CD Reissue
1. Matrix (6:25)
2. My One And Only Love (Robert Mellin/Guy Wood) (3:35)
3. Now He Beats The Drum – Now He Stops (10:34)
4. Bossa (4:41)
5. Now He Sings – Now He Sobs (7:05)
6. Steps – What Was (13:49)
7. Fragments (4:02)
8. Windows (3:09)
9. Pannonica (Thelonius Monk) (2:58)
10. Samba Yantra (2:39)
11. I Don’t Know (2:40)
12. The Law of Falling And Catching Up (2:25)
13. Gemini (4:21)

All compositions written by Chick Corea unless noted.

The Players

Chick Corea (piano), Roy Haynes (drums), Miroslav Vitous (bass). Produced by Sonny Lester.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in December 1968* in the US (Solid State, SS-18039). (First appears in 12/21/68 Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1970 in the UK (Solid State, USS-7011).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Solid State, SR 3029).
  3. Re-issued on elpee in 1973 in Japan (Solid State, SR-3157) with gatefold cover.
  4. Re-issued on elpee in 1977 in Japan (Solid State, GXC-3165).
  5. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Solid State, LAX-3151).
  6. Re-released on elpee and expanded compact disc in 1988 in the US (Blue Note, B1-90055/-2) with 8 bonus tracks (CD only).
  7. Re-issued on compact disc in 1988 in the US (Jazz Heritage, 512810H) with black-and-white cover.
  8. Re-issued on compact disc on September 22, 2010 in Japan (EMI/Toshiba, TOCJ-50044).
  9. Re-released on super-high material compact disc on October 26, 2016 in Japan (Universal, UCCU-5793).

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