One of the most gifted and acclaimed singers of her generation, Reeves uses her exceptional talents to expand the boundaries of individual expression. A Reeves set is likely to blend Joni Mitchell or Peter Gabriel in with long-established jazz standards. At the Modlin Center she illustrated her music school reminiscences with a show-stopping flight of vocal pyrotechnics based on a classical cantata.
Corea has been a major player since the late 1960s when he was recruited into Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew"-era band. While he started as a hard-bop player reconciling edgy experimentation with Bill Evans lyricism, his breakthrough was as the leader of Return to Forever, one of the loudest and most popular fusion bands. In recent years he has returned to his acoustic roots with Jeff Ballard and Avishai Cohen in his New Trio, producing some of the best recordings of his career.
(In an inadvertent bit of counter programming, Chick Corea's predecessor in the Miles Davis band, Herbie Hancock, also will be in Norfolk on the same night. The pianist will present the world premiere of a program based on his 1998 release, "Gershwin's World.")
After a career that has spanned more than a half-century, Rollins remains one of the most vital and adventurous players in jazz. The last giant of the generation that included Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Rollins could be excused for just showing up and playing pretty. Instead, his concerts are marvels of sustained, muscular imagination. There are a lot of great jazz players in the world, but there are none more worth a two-hour drive than Sonny Rollins; each solo is the distillation of a lifetime of experience. Peter McElhinney
All performances of the Ella Fitzgerald Music Festival take place in the Gaines Theatre at Christopher Newport University. All shows cost $35 and start at 8 p.m. Dianne Reeves performs May 1, Sonny Rollins May 2 and Chick Corea New Trio May 3. Tickets can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com.
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