Article and Photos by: Michael W. Bright
Cincinnati, OH. – This summer you could be attending a concert performance of the highest caliber every night of each week, provided you had the cash for today’s high-priced tickets. So, it might have been easy to overlook an evening with the elusive Chick Corea Elektric Band. The 2500 empty seats in the amphitheater meant all but 1500 folks caught the most thrilling jazz-fusion performance of the season.
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones have always enjoyed popularity in the Midwest so the amphitheater was as full as it would get for their flawless performance. Their genre-defying music has to be experienced rather than described, but suffice to say their style works very well with a jazz headliner. Their well-schooled fans awarded a handful of standing ovations as the final notes of each player’s solo triggered the next until the music wound its way completely around the stage.
Any one of the five A-list players in the Elektric Band might have pulled an audience of at least half the size on a good night. The indoctrinated could have spent the entire show focusing on drummer Dave Weckl and consider their money well spent. His career alone includes over 200 albums or projects where he is a band leader, soloist, or primary player. Weckl earned a Grammy in 1994 for participation on an Akoustic Band recording.
Given that keyboardist Chick assembled the original Elektric Band from 1985, and given the rare chance to catch a part of their sporadic tours, fans of any of the various incarnations of Chick Corea’s jazz ensembles should have funneled in from the small burgs and burbs that surround Cincinnati to spin in the evening ‘s nonstop electric tilt-a-whirl. But jazz fans can be finicky with the fusion crowd eschewing straight-ahead jazz and the straight-ahead fans turning up their noses at some fusion styles they consider to be nothing more than pop. It’s a shame, because it was a remarkable evening with two outstanding performances that sparkled brightly amidst the calendar of outdoor summer shows.
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