Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Chick Corea & Béla Fleck, two master songwriters, musicians, and band leaders, meet once again in an historic duet of piano and banjo. This live album combines Corea and Fleck's classic tunes with the music from their Grammy-winning album The Enchantment! With a mix of jazz and pop standards, crossing a myriad of genres, from jazz, bluegrass, rock, flamenco and gospel, this album captures the casual, intimate playing by both legends from different musical worlds.
Personnel: Chick Corea (piano); Béla Fleck (banjo).
Audio Mixers: Brian Vibberts; Béla Fleck.
Liner Note Authors: Chick Corea; Armando Antonio Zacone; Béla Fleck.
Photographers: Joel Malizia; C. Taylor Crothers; Josie Hoggard.
Béla Fleck credits Chick Corea as a major influence on his genre-defying improvisational abilities. The pianist guested on two Flecktones recordings, and Corea invited the banjoist to play on his Rendezvous in New York DVD. It wasn't until 2006, however, that they became duo partners. They collaborated on The Enchantment, issued the following year -- it won a Latin Grammy in 2008. Many tours followed over the next seven years. They cemented a playing relationship that stretched each man musically. As a result of their nightly high-wire act, they became close friends. That relationship is reflected on Two. It was compiled from listening to over 55 shows from that seven-year period. Ten performances are of tunes from The Enchantment, all of them radically reworked. An additional ten tunes on this two-disc set are individual compositions and standards they performed. The Enchantment's opening track, "Señorita," is also the kickoff here, but this version weaves through slippery blues, darkly tinged improvisation, flashy counterpoint, and scalar exploration before the nuevo flamenco melody emerges. On "Waltse for Abby" the pair dialogue through various folk styles, creating a sunny, open country feel. Corea's signature knottiness is replaced by tender lyricism. Fleck's solo piece "The Climb" is brief but powerful, digging through country blues yet leaving nothing but a skeleton as he emerges with a series of arpeggios and modes that come through Andalusian and North African music. Corea's "Joban Dna Nopia" uses Latin syncopations and Spanish melodies in a fleet dialogue that revolves around classical counterpoint and jazz harmonies. In the Flatt & Scruggs standard "Bugle Call Rag," bluegrass is turned inside out to reveal elemental swing. Corea's "Children's Song No. 6," the set's longest track, commences with a long, complex, captivating piano intro before Fleck enters in sharp counterpoint; the conversation moves from inquisitive to incendiary. Fleck's "Sunset Road" -- also quite long -- comes out of the blues, but Corea digs into his piano, yanks hard on the bass strings, then shifts the focus to post-bop; the result recalls the dialogue of Bill Evans and Jim Hall. Two provides the listener with an aural snapshot of brilliant musicians engaged in egoless, intimate communication. They share clarity, focus, and inspiration simultaneously. In most of these tracks, they deliver a sense of what is possible in the moment of creation when this openness occurs. ~ Thom Jurek
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