Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea

Chicago Symphony Center / Chicago, IL

“You know the old saying,” Chick Corea said, “’How do you get to Carnegie Hall?’” The sold out crowd at Orchestra Hall in Chicago Symphony Space replied in unison: “Practice!”

“No,” said Corea. “Play with Herbie Hancock.” The audience laughed and clapped with Corea. Hancock smiled large.

Yet nobody seemed to be more amused at the evening’s onset than Corea and Hancock themselves. Having just played Carnegie Hall a week earlier, and in the midst of tour that includes some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world, Corea and Hancock stood in front of the two grand pianos, seemingly giddy with excitement. Talking over one another, they admitted they hadn’t really figured out what they’re going to play and mused about how close they’d stick to their set list.

Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea
Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea

Once seated, the duo opened the show with two expansive, intricate improvisations, abutting the genre of Jazz up against Classical. The sound wasn’t expected but the opening pieces – harmonic and melodious with a bit of ebullient dissonance tossed in – was mind music. Hancock and Corea had the audience pondering.

The exalted jazz pianists segued from the improvs into Corea’s “Lineage” followed by Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance, and back into two more improvisations on the synthesizers. The foundation of the evening was set. It was to be a night of spontaneity and passion.

Cole Porter’s “Easy to Love” was the duo’s nod to standard repertoire and while this seemed to delight the audience, what seemed to please Hancock and Corea was the gift of sharing a stage with one another. The banter, both verbal and visual, between the exalted jazz pianists became a melody unto itself, with the two being almost as much fun to watch as to hear.

The evening ended just as it had begun, with Hancock and Corea receiving a standing ovation. The latter was for nearly two-hour musical journey into the known and unknown; the prior in recognition of venerable careers spanning multiple genres over a combined century.

– Mandy Pichler

Got something to say?