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Blog // Sounds
February 11, 2009

Hong Kong Arts Festival – Chick Corea and John McLaughlin

This year’s Hong Kong Arts Festival is off and running and tonight was my first taste of the talent on show. The HKAF is the blue ribbon arts festival in this city and every year there is at least one top calibre Jazz act. This year it was Chick Corea and John McLaughlin with Kenny […]

This year’s Hong Kong Arts Festival is off and running and tonight was my first taste of the talent on show. The HKAF is the blue ribbon arts festival in this city and every year there is at least one top calibre Jazz act. This year it was Chick Corea and John McLaughlin with Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride and Brian Blade.

Sometimes jazz supergroups can fail to rise above the sum of their parts, especially when you mix musicians who are all capable of fronting a gig. But, there was no risk of that tonight, not just because of the collective musicianship of this group, but also the amazing respect and humility that these guys displayed towards each other, the music they played and the venue they found themselves in.

Tonight Hong Kong was treated not just to a world class jazz gig, but also to a lesson in the way great jazz musicians listen to each other and interact. This is what makes improvisational jazz such a living, breathing and dynamic genre. The way musicians respond to each other – feeding cues and ideas through the stream and ebb of the music.

Sadly, it has to be said that again there were problems with the sound, there were empty seats and quite a few people left early (though nothing like last year’s shameful performance at the Ornette Coleman gig).

None of that, however, could dull the inspiration and joy of this music. There were new tunes (including the tour de force, Hymn for Andromeda) and old favourites (like Señor CS) and a display of musical muscle and maturity and that surely live long in the memory. Corea’s inventiveness, McLaughlin’s speed and sophistication, Garrett’s pleading, searing (and soaring) melodies, McBride’s dexterity and spirit and Blade’s unrestrained drive and imagination gave us a special night to remember.

[tags] Hong Kong Arts Festival [/tags]

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