Vibin’ to in sync smoothness

Long-time collaborators Chick Corea and Gary Burton will stop by the Dakota this week for two nights of polished jazz.

by Spencer Doar


What: Chick Corea and Gary Burton

When: 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. shows, Wednesdayand Thursday

Where: Dakota Jazz Club, 1010 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis

Cost: $50-$80


Legendary pianist Chick Corea and vibraphone virtuoso Gary Burton have been collaborating for 40 years now, but they show no signs of slowing down as they swing through the Dakota for four shows this week.

“If you’d asked me 30 years ago how long this would last, I would never have imagined that we’d still be doing it,” Burton said. “Most collaborations, at some point you lose interest or you get bored or you go in different directions and move on.”

Corea and Burton are touring to promote their new album, “Hot House,” in which they riff on classic tracks.

“For people that do all of their own writing, it’s a nice change of pace to play other people’s music,” Burton said. “We started thinking and settled on the idea of choosing composers from a certain period, the time when we were coming of age musically, aka the ’50s and ’60s.”

From Bill Evans to The Beatles, Corea and Burton’s arrangements continue to demonstrate their viability as a duo. The album does have one original track, “Mozart Goes Dancing,” a preview of their next project featuring the Harlem Quartet.

“For some reason, Chick missed The Beatles when they were current,” Burton said. “He was so into jazz at that time that he paid no attention to the pop world. Just recently, somebody suggested he hear this Beatles thing, and he listened to it and was suddenly fascinated by their music and what they’d been like.”

Corea and Burton’s approach is well-illustrated on The Beatles song, “Eleanor Rigby.” They play with harmony and melody to such a degree that the mind only subconsciously recognizes the track’s original form. Yet when Burton hits the chorus on his vibraphone, it is obviously the classic Beatles tune.

The song is so revamped, like a remodeled house that had been gutted in the process, that it seems entirely their own.

To have the vibraphone involved at all is a unique thing. Burton picked up mallets at the age of 6 in 1949 and by the time he was 9, he was already working 60 to 70 gigs a year. Over the course of a career that blossomed early, he has played the Dakota nine or 10 times.

“The Dakota is one of our favorite places to play,” Burton said. “We love the audiences in Minneapolis.”

Since they feel fresh and inspired by their new material and reunion, love the venue in which they’re playing and still have the energy and vibrancy that has characterized their duets for years, audiences can expect to get the royal-musical treatment.

After all, admission gets a seat within eyeshot of two artists with a cumulative 22 Grammy awards.