This was “the bomb.” I can’t recall ever being in a room with so many talented musicians. David Paich, who is a very talented composer, was putting together a tribute album to Leonard Bernstein. He knew of my love for Bernstein and especially the music of West Side Story and asked if I would like to be part of the only instrumental track on the record. The list of artists on this CD is stunning. It’s a Who’s Who of Popness.
The concept was to get two monster bands together and pit them against each other to the music of “Rumble”. In the play, this is a musical dance number that takes place between the two rival street gangs. It was a brilliant idea. The two bands were Chick Corea’s Elektric Band featuring Chick Corea on Rhodes & synth, David Weckl on drums, James Earl on bass, Frank Gambale on guitar, Eric Marienthal on sax, and Joe Porcaro on drums, and Steve Vai’s Monsters featured me on guitar, Simon Phillips on drums, John Pena on bass, David Paich & Greg Phillinganes on synths, and Lenny Castro on percussion.
Chick Corea is an alien. He has to be, because his ability to spontaneously be brilliant is uncanny. We watched as he walked to the piano and improvised some of the most enchanting and virtuosic solo piano music that has ever fallen from human fingers.
The different bands play against each other as Chick and I quasi battle it out. It was a moment.
It turned out that later we decided to do some extra stuff up at my studio so Chick strapped on his portable keyboard that hangs like a guitar and we had a blast.