More than 30 musicians closely associated with ECM over a long period were invited to participate in the rarum
anthology project. One major difference between rarum
and other jazz samplers is the musicians' active participation at every step of the way: choosing and sequencing material, writing liner notes, often supplying photos from private collections.
Chick Corea prepared two separate rarum collections for ECM. The first of them puts the emphasis on Chick as jazz player (a second volume, for 2003 release, is a "chamber music" anthology) with the ebullient Return To Forever, the duo with Gary Burton (formed at Manfred Eicher's urging and still going strong after 30 years) and the Corea, Miroslav Vitous, Roy Haynes group, another long-running combination, heard with spontaneous improvisations as well as spirited renditions of Thelonious Monk tunes.
Pianist Chick Corea
has spent quality time in even more stylistic camps than his former boss, Miles Davis
: postbop, chamber settings, free jazz, classical music, full-bore (and sometimes fully boring) fusion. During his stay with ECM in the '70s and early '80s, a period documented by this single-disc entry in the label's :rarum anthology series, his wingspan was not quite as wide. A good half of the album, which boasts selections and liner notes by Corea, consists of tracks by his adventurous trio with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Roy Haynes, originally heard on Now He Sings, Now He Sobs
(1968) and here reunited after more than a decade. Ranging from brief group improvisations to a 14-minute medley of "Summer Night" and "Night and Day", they are lifted by their intriguing blend of personalities. But the heart of the collection resides in Corea's immaculate lyrical duets with vibraphonist Gary Burton and two numbers by the feathery original version of Return to Forever. So much music has flowed under Corea's name, it's easy to overlook the simple, infectious charms of this band, featuring Corea on electric piano, the late Joe Farrell on flute and soprano saxophone, young Stanley Clarke on bass and the husband-wife team of vocalist Flora Purim and percussionist Airto Moreira. ECM's 24-bit/96mhz remasterings, a first for the label, enhance the freshness of these recordings. --Lloyd Sachs