This Is New
Tones for Joan's Bones
Straight Up and Down
Tones for Joan’s Bones finds a 27-year-old Chick Corea—destined to become one of the biggest names in jazz history—fronting an extraordinary quintet and establishing an intensely rhythmic yet profoundly lyrical sound that has remained distinctively his own for decades.
Produced by Corea’s erstwhile employer Herbie Mann in late 1966 for the Atlantic subsidiary Vortex (for which Keith Jarrett recorded his debut just six months later), the album contains three Corea originals and a stylistically representative arrangement of Kurt Weill’s seldom played “This Is New.” But two more Corea gems recorded on the same sessions, “Inner Space” and “Guijira,” got shelved until 1973 when they appeared on the Atlantic compilation Inner Space (alongside “Litha” and “Straight Up and Down”).
The lineup on Tones for Joan’s Bones is one of those jaw-dropping wonders that assembled for a specific purpose and just as quickly parted ways. Tenor saxophonist Joe Farrell and trumpeter Woody Shaw are exploratory and ferocious in the front line, while bassist Steve Swallow (still playing upright, before his switch to electric) and drummer Joe Chambers grease the gears of Corea’s difficult, relentlessly swinging music. As a player at this stage, Corea was unstintingly on fire. As a composer, he was clearly headed for widespread appeal: Stan Getz recorded “Litha” on Sweet Rain, and Blue Mitchell recorded “Straight Up and Down” and “Tones for Joan’s Bones” on Boss Horn, with Duke Pearson arranging for octet.