Contemporary Jazz

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Leading The Vigil

17 SEP 13 JONATHAN WIDRAN

The colorful cover art on Chick Corea's latest jazz fusion opus The Vigil shows the 20-time Grammy-winner helmeted, fully armed and armored, charging up a hill on a horse ready for battle. As he has throughout his illustrious five-decade career, he's facing these challenges backed by some mighty musical cohorts.

In his early years, these were collaborators like Blue Mitchell, Miles Davis, Herbie Mann and Stan Getz. His explosive new band (also named "The Vigil") follows in his grand tradition of leading groundbreaking bands like Return To Forever, the Elektric Band, the Akoustic Band, Origin and Five Peace Band.

Though his band mates may not be household jazz names, they all have deep performance history with Corea that makes their interactions effortless, spirited and -- judging by adventurous and stratospheric titles like "Galaxy 32 Star 4" and "Planet Chia-transcendently "out of this world." Tim Garland (tenor and soprano sax) has played with the keyboardist since joining Origin in 2000 and won a Grammy for orchestrating The New Crystal Silence. In 2007, Hadrien Faraud (bass) took part in Corea's Five Trios Project, while 25-year-old drummer Marcus Gilmore -- carrying on the legacy of his grandfather, Roy Haynes -- and Charles Altura (electric and acoustic guitars) each boast a few Corea dates on their growing resumes.

Beyond the glorious birth of a rhythmically and melodically diverse new ensemble, The Vigil boasts the soaring soprano voice of Corea's wife Gayle Moran Corea on the dreamy, rhythmic "Outside of Space" and guest appearances by Stanley Clarke and Ravi Coltrane on the ambitious 17-minute live track "Pledge For Peace," fashioned as a dedication to John Coltrane.