Friday, 20 April 2018
Chick Corea & Steve Kujala - Voyage (1985)
Chick Corea is on fine form throughout these five tracks - three original compositions, interspersed with freely improvised co-creations with Kujala. Bringing his sprightly upbeat pianism to the fore straight away (in a typically sparkling digital recording), Corea leads an energetic mid-morning skip to the beach on the lengthy opener Mallorca, originally written to be a guitar/piano duet with Paco DeLucia. Kujala, who pioneered a kind of 'bending' flute technique that could take its sound closer to that of a shakuhachi, fills in the atmosphere like a gentle breeze through the trees.
The second 10+ minute track, and the first free improv, Diversions might inevitably be more abstract, but still sounds gorgeous throughout, particularly when Kujala is given an unaccompanied spotlight about five minutes in, after which he returns the courtesy to Corea. We get more solo Corea at the start of the album's second half, in the almost indescribably beautiful Star Island, before Kujala returns a minute and a half into the next on-the-fly duet, titled Free Fall but still full of gentle ease and repose. The album ends on an upbeat note with one more Corea composition, Hong Kong. In conclusion, if you were charting a voyage through the more unexplored seas of ECM, this might just be one of the singularly paradisaical islands available to discover. Unreservedly recommended.