"Will Kenny Garrett's sax live?" was what I kept thinking during his first solo after the interval. It was an amazing performance. Mr Garrett took the sax places it really shouldn't go, and was lucky to make it back from. I'm sure watching Pete Townsend smash up a telecaster was great, but Garrett did it with no percussion required.
The Five Peace Band concert was in the Concert Hall, in the Sydney Opera House. (Both named in the traditional "name it what it is" Australian way.) We had seats a few rows back staring at Chick Corea, and (to our pleasant surprise) with a clear view of Brian Blade, the drummer. Listening to five musicians who use all elements of music in their playing is great in the concert hall as the sound is so good. There's no fancy light show or pyrotechnics, it's just the music, and the music was brilliant.
The concert was only seven tunes, each one packed with a density of virtuosity that almost hurt. I don't know the full set list, but they did a blues "New Blues Old Bruise", a weird assed seven final sections Chick Corea thing"Hymn to Andromeda", something from Milestones, and encored with "In a silent way". All very tasty. Each player given space to solo, with the rest of the band following their lead; louder, quieter, pushing the beat, laying back, repeating phrases, all brilliant playing. Then for fun Chick, John and Kenny switched to 4s, ie four bar solos in turn, utter show offs.
Kenny Garrett was the highlight. Amazing sax work. Brian Blade and Christian McBride were the surprises. Blade looked to me like a happy idiot who was allowed to play on the drums, constantly smiling. His fills were amazingly tight, and just when I thought he would never settle into a groove he pulled one out and sat on it for ages.
McBride is a great bassist. Used upright and electric as appropriate. His "bring the house down" solo was on the upright, and again the sound quality was excellent, we didn't miss a note.
John McLaughlin said that he and Chick Corea have been collaborating for 4o years, which is a healthy amount of time to be working with someone - even on and off. (I did think there are people in my industry who haven't collaborated for 10 minutes.) It's great to see such excellent musicians working together rather than trying to out do each other. There was no mystical connection between them due to the time they had been together, but they listened to what each other was doing and played off that.
We didn't all rise when the jazz fusion nobility entered, maybe we should have. We did when they left.