Chick Corea and John McLaughlin first encountered each other in Miles Davis's group in the late '60s before taking his electric-jazz lessons and going on to invent fusion with Return to Forever (Corea) and the Mahavishnu Orchestra (McLaughlin). But Five Peace Band represents their first official electric collaboration, and this double CD, recorded live in Europe, is the first fruit of the union.
It's some band, too, with the versatile Christian McBride on bass, the audacious Kenny Garrett on sax, and the mighty Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. Yet for all their chops, this release is devoid of soul or spark. Solos — lots of them — are well constructed and impeccably executed but rarely inspired.
The band navigate changes deftly, but they seldom suggest that they're anything but a quintet of virtuosos hanging out till something closer to their hearts comes along. When they click, as on Corea's new "Hymn to Andromeda" — a near-half-hour excursion that recalls fusion before excesses killed the genre — and on Jackie McLean's "Dr. Jackle," the result hints at greatness. But the two nods to Miles, "In a Silent Way/It's About That Time" (with Herbie Hancock guesting on piano) and "Someday My Prince Will Come" (done as a guitar-piano duet), are safe and short on originality.
FIVE PEACE BAND | Berklee Performance Center, 136 Mass Ave, Boston | April 30 @ 8:15 pm | $35-$70 | www.ticketmaster.com [officially sold out]