Chick Corea & Gary Burton: Tiny Desk Concert The two highly decorated jazz legends could barely fit their instruments behind the Tiny Desk. But once they did, their unique musical chemistry took over.

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

Fabiano do Nascimento plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Fabiano Do Nascimento (Home) Concert

The Brazilian-born guitarist performs a peace-inducing concert from his home in Los Angeles.

Coreyah plays a Tiny Desk (home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Coreyah (Home) Concert

The Seoul-based sextet performs music that blends Korean traditional music with modern sounds.

M. Ward plays a Tiny Desk (Home) concert. NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR/NPR

M. Ward (Home) Concert

The acclaimed guitarist (and masculine half of She & Him) performed seven songs in his Tiny Desk quarantine concert.

Madame Gandhi plays a Tiny Desk (Home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Madame Gandhi (Home) Concert

Watch the drummer and activist perform three songs for our Tiny Desk quarantine series.

Sudan Archives plays a Tiny Desk concert. Kisha Ravi/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Kisha Ravi/NPR

Sudan Archives

Sudan Archives draws inspiration from Irish and African traditional music. Watch her channel both in this Tiny Desk concert.

Hamilton Leithauser & Family play a Tiny Desk (Home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Hamilton Leithauser & Family (Home) Concert

The Walkmen frontman gathers his children and a few haystacks for a special Father's Day edition of Tiny Desk.

Benny The Butcher plays a Tiny Desk (Home) concert. NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR/NPR

Benny The Butcher (Home) Concert

Benny The Butcher, one third of Griselda, performs a short set in his living room, with help from BSF labelmates Rick Hyde and Heem.

Little Dragon plays a Tiny Desk (Home) concert. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Little Dragon (Home) Concert

The Swedish funk foursome perform songs from its latest album, New Me, Same Us, plus an old favorite for our Tiny Desk quarantine series.

HAIM plays a Tiny Desk (Home) concert. NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR/NPR

HAIM (Home) Concert

Although sisters Este, Danielle and Alana are self-quarantining in separate residences, their Tiny Desk set from home is a reminder that California is a state of mind.

Alicia Keys plays a Tiny Desk concert (Kisha Ravi/NPR). Kisha Ravi/NPR/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Kisha Ravi/NPR/NPR

Alicia Keys

The pop superstar premiered a new song, "Gramercy Park," and revisited a classic during her Tiny Desk performance.

Back To Top