Tiny Desk

Chick Corea & Gary Burton

Sometimes big-name artists need special attention. But in this case, it wasn't because they've been jazz pioneers and innovators since the 1960s and are considered to be founding fathers of jazz fusion, not to mention two of the most important jazz figures performing today. It's not because they've collectively recorded more than 100 albums and won 29 Grammy Awards. The agitation was because both of their instruments couldn't fit behind Bob Boilen's Tiny Desk.

There were logistical hurdles to overcome before the jazz giants' arrival. We had to move the desk to make a bigger "stage." Piano movers hauled the 900-pound Yamaha C7 grand piano from our first-floor performance studio up the freight elevator to the fourth-floor Tiny Desk area. But weeks of meticulous measuring and planning paid off when the rented vibes were delivered and just fit alongside the piano.

Gary Burton and Chick Corea were in town for the 2016 NEA Jazz Masters Concert. The NEA Jazz Masters fellowship is the highest honor our nation bestows on jazz artists. Each year, the program honors a select few living legends who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz. Burton was a newly appointed 2016 recipient, while Corea received the honor in 2006.

These friends first played together 44 years ago, when they recorded their very first album, Crystal Silence. In his autobiography, Gary Burton tells the story:

We set aside three days for the recording. Except for ... one tune in Munich, Chick and I hadn't worked together before Berlin, so we figured we would need a fair amount of time to choose songs and finalize arrangements. But to our amazement, it all went incredibly fast. We would spend maybe twenty minutes creating an arrangement, and then record. We did every song in just one take, except that we required a second spin through "Senor Mouse."

The record was finished in just a few hours, and the two realized they had a unique musical chemistry with the ability to anticipate each other's improvisational ideas. That album went on to become a classic: flawless yet fresh and forever new.

A few thousand concerts later, the jazz masters showed up at NPR HQ to perform a concert at our newly expanded Tiny Desk. On this day, it had been almost two years since Chick Corea and Gary Burton had played together — the longest break they'd ever had. But once again, their remarkable ability to connect was demonstrated in two songs they play together all the time.

Hot House is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)

Set List

  • "Love Castle"
  • "Crystal Silence"

Credits

Producers: Suraya Mohamed, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Kara Frame, Morgan McCloy; Production Assistant: Jackson Sinnenberg; Photo: Brandon Chew/NPR.

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Holly Macve performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 5, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Holly Macve

Backed by a suitably low-key band, Macve would sound subtly radiant just about anywhere, from your nearest country bar to the most dreamily lit stage in Twin Peaks.

Tigers Jaw performs at NPR's Tiny Desk on May 19, 2017. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tigers Jaw

The duo strips down to acoustic guitar and keyboard for a strikingly intimate set, illuminating their close harmonies that tangle like garlands.

Penguin Cafe performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 2, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Penguin Cafe

Penguin Cafe folds in sounds from around the world and throughout music history — Africa, Kraftwerk, Brazil and Franz Schubert.

Perfume Genius performs at NPR's Tiny Desk on May 15, 2017. (Raquel Zaldivar/NPR) Raquel Zaldivar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

Tiny Desk

Perfume Genius

The band's long-awaited performance at the Tiny Desk was both beautiful and, at times, intense, featuring three deeply personal songs by frontman Mike Hadreas.

Violents & Monica Martin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 28, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Violents & Monica Martin

While her band was on hiatus, Monica Martin joined Jeremy Larson's project Violents, yielding a lush record of electronic pop, translated into a quieted set at the Tiny Desk.

Nick Grant performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 8, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Nick Grant

The Atlanta-based MC came through with the flu and coolly earned our praise. How sick is that?

Royal Thunder performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 10, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Royal Thunder

What happens when you ask a hard-rock band to unplug its thunder? It draws power from a raw, desperate vulnerability.

Gabriel Garzon-Montano performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 3, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Gabriel Garzón-Montano spent three years writing and recording his beautiful, dense album Jardin -- but for his Tiny Desk visit, he stripped it all down to two elements, the piano and his voice.

Julia Jacklin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 1, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Julia Jacklin

A restrained, whisper-soft Tiny Desk concert from Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin with songs taken from her debut album Don't Let The Kids Win.

Troker performs at Tiny Desk Concert on April 5, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero /NPR

Tiny Desk

Troker

Mexico may not be known for its jazz, but the young lions of Troker are a promising hope to make the country and its capital city a destination.

Back To Top