By McKenna Johnson
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s performance with Chick Corea at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, was the essence of music. From the first note, I was entranced with their sound, and the entire performance was an event to journal about.
Led by Chair Robert J. Appel, Managing and Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis, and Executive Director Greg Scholl, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) is widely considered the best big band in the world. Chick Corea has no less acclaim: the composer and keyboardist has won 22 Grammy Awards. Over the past several decades, Corea has established himself as a jazz legend.
The members of the JLCO are absurdly talented, some playing five or so instruments over the course of the show. The players’ sounds are clear, and their technique seems flawless regardless of what instrument they play.
The music the JLCO and Corea performed were written by Corea and arranged by members of the band, such as Sherman Irby and Ted Nash. I can’t say that a single piece played during the evening was weak or anything less than excellent; one of my favorites was “Windows.”
Corea’s ability on the piano is dizzying. No matter how complicated the music becomes, his touch is light and precise, each note articulated smoothly and with appropriate spacing.
I went to the performance with my boyfriend, Jake, who has a degree in jazz studies and is studying for a master’s degree in saxophone performance at BYU. He’s seen the JLCO a few times before, and he says that they’ve always been amazing. This performance was his first time seeing Chick Corea play live.
While I wasn’t familiar with Chick Corea’s music before the performance, Jake was, so he offers a more educated perspective. Jake liked hearing Corea’s arrangements played by a big band, since Corea generally works with smaller groups.
One of the highlights of the performance for Jake was hearing the high-caliber improvisation of both Corea and the various soloists from the band, including Chris Crenshaw on trombone and Marcus Printup on trumpet. Corea as an individual is famed for his improvisation technique, and to the surprise of no one, the JLCO musicians kept pace with him.
While amateur musicians like me work to make instruments sing, musicians like Printup perform so effectively that if anything, they’re limited by the instruments. Their musicality transcends the metal and wood and communicates on a human level that is quintessentially musical.
The high-quality performances brought to the Provo, Utah, area by the BYU Bravo series show us why hearing music live is both worthwhile and essential. The clarity, spontaneity, and depth communicated in the performance of Chick Corea and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra can’t be recorded by modern technology. If you have a chance to see Chick Corea or the JLCO, then take that chance. You won’t be sorry.
Brigham Young University presents Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Chick Corea
de Jong Concert Hall, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center, BYU Campus, Provo
March 20, 7:30 PM
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Chick Corea Facebook Event