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Corea Starts a Label of His Own

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

You wouldn’t think that Chick Corea would need something else to do. The tireless jazz pianist is ubiquitous, performing either with his Akoustic trio, his Elektric band or, as he is currently doing, with an acoustic quartet featuring saxophonist Bob Berg (a version of which played the Hollywood Bowl in September).

Corea, a Boston native who has lived in Los Angeles for two decades, decided more than a year ago that he wanted to start a record label, so now there is Stretch Records, founded by Corea and his longtime manager, Ron Moss.

The line, which is distributed by Corea’s home label, GRP, has released its first two projects: bassist John Patitucci’s “Heart of the Bass” and guitarist Robben Ford’s “Robben Ford & the Blue Line.”

“Sometimes a musician might have a new development in mind that he hasn’t brought forth publicly. If the idea is fresh and the creative level is high, that really excites me, makes me enthusiastic,” said Corea, explaining his primary motivation in launching Stretch.

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Corea, who was reached on a tour stop in Connecticut, said he’s inspired by interaction with other musicians and by seeing their projects come to fruition. “These guys are blowing me away,” he said of the albums by Patitucci and Ford.

Composer-trumpeter Jeff Beal’s 26-minute “Concerto for Jazz Bass and Orchestra” is the highlight of Patitucci’s classical-leaning offering. The work spotlights the virtuosic bassist, backed by a lush string section, playing both acoustic and electric six-string basses, delivering sumptuous written passages and lilting improvisations. He was especially happy to showcase the electric instrument in a setting where it’s rarely, if ever, been heard.

“The six-string bass is a great instrument, and its potential for orchestral presentations should be explored,” Patitucci said. “It has a beautiful range and is capable of a lot of lyricism.”

The album also features a series of miniatures by Corea written for bass, piano and string quartet.

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Ford’s collection could hardly be more dissimilar. Accompanied only by bassist Roscoe Beck and drummer Tom Brechtlein, the blues guitarist, who can also play a jazz phrase or two, offers originals and two blues classics with a style that ranges from raucous to relaxed. “I’ve never heard blues quite like that,” Corea said.

Corea said he has several additional projects in mind, although nothing is final yet, and that he may re-release several of his earlier albums, such as “Three Quartets,” once available on Warner Bros. but now out of print.

Critic’s Choice: His tone isn’t what it once was, and his ideas are a little more angular, but there’s no arguing that saxophonist Harold Land, appearing Saturday at the Jazz Bakery, is one of the greats of jazz. For well over 30 years, Land has lent his subtle rhythmic sense and keen melodic grace to memorable interpretations of originals and jazz standards. One just doesn’t walk away from one of his performances without hearing something special.


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