As a result of my growing interest of Latin and Jazz music, I decided for my blog post to be on the song Spain by Chick Corea. Spain is an instrumental jazz fusion composition by jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea. It is likely Corea’s most recognized piece, and some would consider it a modern jazz standard. Spain was composed in 1971 and appeared in its original and most well known rendition on the album Light As A Feather. It is played in common time(4/4) and is originally played at a very fast pace. This February, I witnessed Lehman College’s Latin Jazz Band perform a cover to Spain. The song is introduced with a lengthy piano solo with a cello in the background complimenting the piano. After the intro, the song switches to a fast, Latin jazz samba rhythm, in which the main theme and an improvisation part are repeated. The percussion and woodwind instruments are then introduced. The flutes are accompanying the piano’s melody, while the business keeps a fast and steady pace. At the break of the song, the listener is required to clap along to the beat which is indeed a part of the original recording and sheet music. The claps are done on the 1 and the 3 and then falls back into a repeat of the fast paced Latin jazz samba rhythm. The chord progression used during the improvisation part is based on harmonic progressions of GMAJ7, F#7, Em7, A7, DMAJ7, C#7, F#7, Bm, B7. Chick Corea’s instrumental of “Spain” is influenced from traditional Spanish music. In the opening arrangement of the song, There is a Flamenco style of playing on the piano, implying a dramatic setting to set the mood before heading into an elegant melodic flare. Like the original recording, each musician takes turns in the spotlight to display their musicianship skills. The piano, bass guitar, flutes, brass, and percussion all took turns soloing. The most impressive solo to me in the performance and in original recording is the bass solo. The bass solo was almost on par from the original recording with its arpeggio sweeps and even plucked some chords with a slap bass technique. The flute takes second place with its versatility among the other instruments. The flute player’s solo ornaments the music with such gracefulness in the melodic theme of the piece and even ventured out on his own. The percussion solos were also impressive. The drums especially to solo and be able to keep a steady jazz samba rhythm at such a fast pace. The spontaneous drum fills were perfectly timed and you’d have to be a pretty experienced drummer to be able to do it at such a fast pace. However, all the instruments played an important part to this piece. Each instrument originates its own sound so perfect when played together. They’re intimate unity is what makes Chick Corea’s “Spain” such a well respected masterpiece of musical sorcery. Below is a live performance of a performance of “Spain” in Barcelona, Spain.
Congratulations, David, on earning the first “pingback” of the semester! That means people are reading your work and responding to it.
This is a sensitive and lively response to this piece, David.
Here’s a topic related to Jazz and performance that I’d like to ask everyone: When we play “Classical” music, we are expected to stick to what’s on the page. When we perform “Jazz” we understand that there might only be a lead sheet and that improvisation is key. In the case of some “canonic” works like this one, what sort of freedom do performers feel they have, and how much constraint to reproduce something like what Chick Corea and his band is capable of? How do you simultaneously nod to the original, but make the piece your own?
Write your thoughts in the comments!
Nice piece David. I also enjoyed that bass solo with the combination of rhythmic seven chord strumming along with the single bass lines. As a side note if you liked the opening melody from “Concierto de Aranjuez”, Miles David’s “Sketches of Spain” has a trumpet version and Gabor Szabo has en excellent guitar version around the same period of Chick’s “Light as a Feather” album. (1972, 1973)