Listening to Chick Corea’s La Fiesta

Do you know the jazz tune “La Fiesta” by Chick Corea? It was one of his early “hits,” and is definitely worth checking out in detail.

The first recordings of the tune both featured Chick himself on keyboards. Stan Getz recorded it and then Chick did it himself as leader on his album Return To Forever, which was one of the first jazz fusion recordings.

As great and influential as these recordings are, however, my personal favorite versions of the song are when Chick and vibraphonist Gary Burton play it as a duet. Corea and Burton are one of the greatest duos in jazz history and the piano/vibes combination brings out a joy and lightness that, for me, are missing from the other versions.

There are many Youtube videos of the two of them playing “La Fiesta,”
but this one’s my favorite:
La Fiesta

One of the joys of the tune is are the opportunities it offers for improvisation. There’s the Spanish-influenced 2-chord vamp, which can be extended as long as the performers choose to keep it going. Then there’s the delightful chord progression after the vamp, played over a lilting jazz waltz. The overall effect between the vamp and the traditional chord progression is one of “tension and release.” And in this video, both Chick and Gary extend the tune’s playful aspect into some free-from improvisations that manage to stay true to the overall effect without getting too “far out.” It remains a cohesive performance.

If you can, take a few minutes and watch it today, before you forget. It’s a delight!

Take your left hand playing to a new level with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration

Leave a Comment

Sign up for Blog Updates