Chick Corea – My Spanish Heart
1976 - Polydor Records, Original Pressing
This record features one of the worst album covers of all time, luckily, the music more than makes up for it. Standing regally with a puffy shirt and matador coat, Chick stares into our souls from the cover while portraits in different poses await inside. This is a double album, so there is plenty of time to study the cover while listening...alright, onto the music. The first thing that stands out to me is the use of a string quartet. They are not used as a background to the music, but as an integral part of it. The arrangements feature complex interplay between the quartet and the rest of the band. Along with a string quartet, this album is heavy on trumpets and hand clapping. Songs like “Armando’s Rhumba” have become easily recognizable in the Corea catalogue. The four-part suite that takes up the second side of the second record, “Spanish Fantasy”, has long been a favorite composition of mine. The only part of this album that I’m not a super fan of is the “El Bozo” suite on the third side. It just seems like an excuse for Chick to play around with synthesizers, which, in my opinion takes away from the seriousness of the rest of the album and is a little corny. Overall though, the writing, arranging, and playing are incredible. Throughout the entire record, each instrument only comes in when necessary, the drums are sparse, there is a lot of solo piano work, and everything is placed with purpose. The variety makes this album a joy to listen to. Stanley Clarke shines on most of the tracks (like he did on most projects of his before the 80’s). Another star of the album is Steve Gadd on drums. Mr. Gadd is a legend who not only worked with, but was a first call drummer for Simon and Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Eric Clapton, Jim Croce, Joe Cocker, Michel Petrucciani, and tons of other top musicians. His groove is uniquely his, and it can be heard across this album. His bass-drum placement alone should give him legend status as a drummer. Overall, this is an album I highly recommend sitting down and giving your full attention, you won’t be disappointed!