Given the half-dozen Corea albums released in 1978, it’s easy to lose track of his most noteworthy efforts, especially the concept-driven The Mad Hatter and the intimate Latin-jazz quartet date Friends. Secret Agent builds on the final RTF incarnation, featuring a horn section and string trio on most tracks. But while the sonic palette is similar to The Leprechaun and The Mad Hatter, Secret Agent plays more as a collection of discrete songs, freed from high concept. From the opening progressive rock affect of “The Golden Dawn” to Corea’s filtered, unconventional approach to Latin music on “Central Park” (featuring a lithe Minimoog solo and a visceral timbale spot for Airto Moreira), Corea’s eclectic aesthetic leaves few stylistic stones unturned.
In fretless whiz kid Bunny Brunel and drummer Tom Brechtlein Corea had one of his most flexible rhythm sections to date. Brunel’s innovative approach to harmonics was in many ways as revolutionary as anything by the more acclaimed Jaco Pastorius. The busy but never bombastic rhythm section is one to be reckoned with. It’s capable of navigating the esoteric funk of “Drifting” and the more clear-cut groove of “Glebe St. Blues,” where Brechtlein inhabits a space similar to Steve Gadd’s on The Leprechaun’s “Nite Sprite.”
Corea democratically shares solo space throughout, including Al Vizzutti’s powerful flugelhorn solo on the fiery “Fickle Funk,” as well as the late Joe Farrell’s always inventive soprano sax. Though he has an array of keyboards at his disposal, Corea’s best moments come on Fender Rhodes and Minimoog.
- The Golden Dawn
- Glebe St. Blues
- Fickle Funk
- Bagatelle #4
- Hot News Blues
- Central Park