Jazz Institute of Chicago

Corky McClerkin: Island of Dreams

Corky McClerkin: Island of Dreams

Corky McClerkin is one of Chicago's great pianists capable of nearly anything in music. He is a tremendous asset to any sized band, any style, electric or acoustic and plays fine solo piano, too.

On this release he celebrates the "versatility of African-American" music and plays in a variety of styles that showcase and underscore his great talent. Every track is a gem: the opener, Slick N' Slide, brings new credibility to the smooth pop sound of jazz. Africa is built on a rhythm ostinato with vocals from Dee Alexander and Michael Logan complete with elephant shrieks before it segues into a fine piano solo. The Look of Love is reset against a reggae beat with some jazz kicks and strings, featuring McClerkin at the electric piano. Los Ninos is a Latin tour de force that shows us the power of synthesizers. Apart from Michael Logan's acoustic guitar, McClerkin, highlighted by nice vibes and strong horn section, plays every instrument on these tracks.

Then just as you thought that you heard the CD, there is a complete stylistic shift to a swinging, straight-ahead, acoustic jazz sextet with Sonny Seals, Duke Payne and John Watson! Both acoustic and electric solo pianos are featured on a beautiful reading of In a Sentimental Mood. There is also a bonus track, Cancel Me Out, a minor key theme (with a major key blues) swinger featuring McClerkin's trio (bassist John Whitfield and drummer Curtis Prince) with Duke Payne's tenor sax.

This is a great CD, a fine sampler of Corky McClerkin's range of talent and mastery of jazz. You will get to know him very well by listening to this recording.- MV

Available via Wincor, www.corkymcclerkin.com or call (773) 933-7703.

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