What a nice surprise to hear the often overextended Corea playing so delicately in this trio setting. Corea pulled bassist John Patitucci and drummer Dave Weckl from his recent Elektric Band lineup to round out his acoustic band.
One side, which contains four familiar jazz standards, makes it appear that Corea thinks ambitious adaptation is the sincerest form of flattery. The songs-John Coltrane's "Bessie's Blues," Robert Mellin's and Guy Wood's "My One and Only Love," Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" and "Autumn Leaves" by Joseph Kozma, Jacques Prevert and Johnny Mercer (the latter providing the English lyrics)—bear only a passing resemblance to their original incarnations. "Sophisticated Lady" can make you dizzy with some of its wilder improvisations, and the jaunty melody line is barely recognizable.
Corea, known from his Return to Forever days as an occasionally heavy-handed keyboardist, floats over the ivories on this album, deft and warm. His Akoustic compatriots are also in good form, with Patitucci playing an especially fluid lead bass line on "T.B.C. (Terminal Baggage Claim)." On the bossa nova-tinged "Morning Sprite," all three musicians perform with the zestiness the title would imply. The nonstandard side features all original compositions by Corea, including his classic "Spain," dusted off for yet another go-round. Corea has always been able to shine by showing off his technical prowess, but on occasion the light has been somewhat glaring. In the softer tones of this album, it seems clear that there's definitely a heart behind those agile hands. (GRP)