CHICK COREA AKOUSTIC BAND | London, Ronnie Scott’s

Entering its fifth year of 88-keyed, 4-stringed, two-sticked combinations, the Ronnie Scott’s International Piano Trio Festival really gets going over the next few nights as Chick Corea leads the Akoustic Band into the fray. Joined by John Patitucci on bass and Dave Weckl on drums, this is a heavy-weight combination of instrumentalists almost too big for the space-efficient stage in Soho although Ronnie’s is no stranger to an abundance of world-class talent in an intimate setting.

It’s been 32 years since this version of Chick’s trio graced the club. That sounds like a long time ago. It is a long time ago and yet the aptly named ‘Morning Sprite’ is both titled and delivered with all the energy and optimism of a band without the 3 decades of tours, sessions and life in between. Chick’s light, whimsical and effortlessly dexterous touch on the keys is a cut-through feature from the start. When he plays justifiedly large concert halls it’s impossible to get a clear view of his hands dancing across the keys but in Ronnie’s that all changes. Into the second chart of the night ‘Japanese Waltse’ the interplay between Chick and his bandmates takes on a gear that enables the room to sit back/forward and enjoy the confidence of a band who could be blindfolded and still have a better sense of where each other is than most trios.

The sheer class of this group is surely in the talent each member is blessed with. John Patitucci is equally at home on one of his melodic solo runs, pulling chords out of thin air moving the piece forward between drum solos or duelling back and forth with Chick (all showcased in ‘That Old Feeling’). On ‘Lifeline’ (originally written for The New Chick Corea Trio) it’s Dave Weckl’s time to shine in a song that takes on a Latin vibe, one which is announced by the drummer which then leads to a showcase of percussive drive, accuracy and flare from the kit. As Dave cuts lose, John grins and there is the outstanding magic 2/3 of the band that gives Chick his platform to be Chick.

Only a few people in the room at Ronnie’s will have been at both the 1986 show and tonight’s offering. Based on the vim, vigour and virtuosity evident in 2018 CE (Chick’s Era) it’s difficult to imagine how they could have sounded any more fresh, original or hip then compared to now. This band is still the real deal, setting the standard for all piano trios that dream of having the longevity that they have.

The Ronnie Scott’s International Piano Trio Festival continues until Sunday 5 August — find the few remaining tickets here.

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