The Five Peace Band, McLaughlin and Corea at the Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center


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Looking to the Present While Peeking at the Past, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett and Brian Blade.

The Five Peace Band, a jazz-rock juggernaut, presents a parody of abundance. Led by the guitarist John McLaughlin and the keyboardist Chick Corea both restless virtuosos, and legends at 67 the group works hard and fast, with heroic stamina and superhuman technique. Its overall effect can be exhilarating and exhausting. On Thursday, in its first of several sold-out nights at the Rose Theater, a three-hour concert became a tempest, extravagant in almost every sense.

But it wasnt as if the crowd came unprepared. Mr. McLaughlin and Mr. Corea initiated their partnership last year, touring widely and generating a glut of bootleg videos online. More to the point, the Five Peace Band cant help recalling a pair of fusion flagships from the 1970s: the Mahavishnu Orchestra, led by Mr. McLaughlin, and Return to Forever, led by Mr. Corea. And as Mr. McLaughlin acknowledged near the top of the show, it has been 40 years since he and Mr. Corea worked on the Miles Davis album In a Silent Way, a calmer touchstone of the jazz-rock era.

Here they made some effort to turn the page, opting not to play In a Silent Way or its companion piece, Its About That Time. Yet there was a 70s-era notion of valor coded into much of their playing. Mr. McLaughlins solos were marvels of velocity and precision, and though he introduced the occasional quirk say, a pitch slightly bent with his guitars tremolo arm the outcome always felt resolute.

Mr. Corea, using two synthesizers along with a grand piano, was more exploratory, but his outpourings often came fully formed. Both musicians released their notes in a dazzling profusion.

Crucially, their band mates hail from a different corner of jazzs space-time continuum. The alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, another Davis alumnus, is 48; the bassist Christian McBride and the drummer Brian Blade are in their 30s. Age probably isnt the determining factor, but these players (Mr. Blade in particular) imparted flow to the concert, and some much-needed elasticity. Their presence made it possible for the band to evade its historical precedents, and disarm some entrenched jazz-world divisions. (It was not insignificant that the group appeared courtesy of Jazz at Lincoln Center.)

The first half began the same way as Five Peace Band Live (Concord), which is due out on Tuesday. After “Raju," a hyperkinetic workout by Mr. McLaughlin, the band moved on to The Disguise, a faintly Latin tune by Mr. Corea. Then came Mr. McLaughlins New Blues, Old Bruise, with floating accents that suggested a balloon pulled by the string: a slippery challenge, and no time for reflexive facility.

The second half was less focused but more satisfying, because of its variation. Mr. Coreas Hymn to Andromeda took the form of a suite, beginning and ending in hazy abstraction. Mr. McLaughlins solo, over a ballad section, included pockets of space, but Mr. Garrett, taking over on a fusionlike stretch, went the other way: with Mr. Blade flailing behind him, he strained toward the outer limits.

It was the second astonishment of the set from Mr. Garrett, who had demolished Seor C.S., a speed-freak samba by Mr. McLaughlin. His solo had everything pacing, development, momentum, surprise and it spurred the band to furious action. It was all a bit much, but in this case, that was just enough.

The Five Peace Band performs Saturday at the Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway at 60th Street; (212) 721-6500.

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