PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Chick Corea Explores More Latin Possibilities With His New Group

Photo: Mikoaj Rutkowski / Courtesy of Chick Corea Productions

The Spanish Heart Band–Antidote is a thrilling fusion of grooves and soul, further cementing Chick Corea as one of the most innovative voices in jazz history.

The Spanish Heart Band-Antidote
Chick Corea


28 June 2019

Chick Corea, a true living legend of jazz, is lauded for his versatility as much as for his virtuosity. He defined the early jazz fusion sound playing with Miles Davis and subsequently with his own group, Return to Forever. His Elektric and Akoustic bands introduced audiences to his new visions of jazz, and he composed stunning classical works with Children's Songs and The Continents: Concerto for Jazz Quintet and Chamber Orchestra. So when the salsa-inspired "Antidote" kicks off his latest album with the energy of a block party, it feels new yet unsurprising at the same time.

The Spanish Heart Band–Antidote is Corea's latest collaboration with global spanning, Spanish influenced musicians. Corea was born in Massachusetts, but his musical heart resides in Spain and Latin America. Even casual jazz listeners know of Corea's fascination with the nuances and intricate rhythms of Latin music. The Spanish Heart Band–Antidote amplifies the proceedings with a nine-member ensemble featuring a rhythm section, horn frontline, flute, percussion, and flamenco guitar.

"Antidote" features the legendary Ruben Blades, singing a melody with more disjunct twists and turns than we typically hear from the Panamanian vocalist. Despite feeling more on the modern jazz than salsa, Blades sounds utterly natural fitting in alongside the extended solo breaks. "Yellow Nimbus, Part 1" reaches deep into the heart of flamenco, featuring soulful meditations from guitarist Niño Josele and flutist Jorge Pardo. All the while, Josele and Pardo are supported by percussionist Luisito Quintero and flamenco dancer Nino de los Reyes with hypnotic handclaps and virtuosic footwork.

The record sounds remarkably intimate despite the sheer intensity and scope of the nonet. Tracks are arranged to feature the stellar work of each musician without sacrificing the soul of the composition. Consider "Duende", a slow tune with plenty of room to breath and stretch its legs. It prizes its silence as much as it does its tasteful contributions from Pardo and trumpet player Michael Rodriguez.

The album's reimagining of Corea's classic "My Spanish Heart" begins with a stunning wordless vocal intro recorded by Corea's partner in life and music, Gayle Moran Corea. It is at turns haunting and heavenly, and altogether another example of what jazz can become in the hands of innovation. Ruben Blades adds text to the track, a practice that could end in intentionally humorous disaster, but the result here is sincere and–forgive me–heartwarming.

Practically everyone gets a chance to solo on "Armando's Rumba", another Corea classic revived to showcase his new band. It's another excellent example of substance over style; each musician plays a few choruses, makes a few fine improvisatory statements, then defers to the next musician. No one plays for bragging rights–everyone tastefully contributes to a track that sounds greater than the sum of its parts. Vocalist Maria Bianca stands out on Jobim's bossa nova classic, "Desafinado". The color of her voice and her pitch-perfect articulation of the Brazilian-flavored Portuguese text add an entirely new dimension to the album, a new sense of life and vitality to an already stellar recording.

While he could resort to rehashing his past records and phoning in subsequent concerts and appearances, it's thrilling to see Corea pushing forward into new musical ventures. Undertaking new projects and refreshing collaborations is no small task for a jazz legend in his 50th decade of performing. Corea's seemingly endless search for the next venture should be inspiring to musicians regardless of genre. Whatever happens to the collective on this album, The Spanish Heart Band–Antidote is a phenomenal record, destined to be one of the best jazz albums released the year.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.