The Meeting

Chick Corea & Friedrich Gulda

What made it so special then, and continues to make it special today, is the feeling of discovery the pianists have in each other’s playing and the interesting synthesis they create together. Prior to their meeting, Gulda knew Corea’s work but Corea had never even heard of Gulda, despite the Austrian pianist’s having played at Birdland back in the 1950s. As a classically trained pianist who combined formal and improvised music in his recitals, Gulda was not merely ahead of his time; I can’t think of too many pianists who do this even today.

Corea and Gulda, facing each other across the top of dueling Steinways, begin a musical conversation initiated with Corea playing a few tentative notes, a brief reply played by Gulda, another slightly longer response from Corea, a slightly longer one by Gulda, and they’re off and running! This is truly instantaneous improvisation, “without a safety net” as the liner notes so aptly put it, in which anything can happen—including Gulda imitating Corea by holding down piano strings while he plays, in one brief passage. The opening piece is given in the program as Frank Churchill’s famous “Someday My Prince Will Come” (from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), but as with Corea’s improvisation on ’Round Midnight they only arrive at that tune eventually (at the 9:47 mark), and by degrees. One of the more remarkable passages comes where Gulda, again reaching into the piano frame, plucks out some soft bass notes that perfectly complement what Corea is playing on his keyboard, after which the two pianists briefly engage in an improvised canon.

— Fanfare Magazine

Album Tracks

  1. Someday My Prince Will Come
  2. Put Your Little Foot Out
  3. Poem No. 3 / Wiegenlied