When I am learning something, I’m in my element.
Earlier this year, the jazz world, and music world, lost the brilliant Chick Corea. Throughout his lengthy career, he worked with countless musicians, while adapting and morphing his style for his projects, including classical works. This week, in anticipation of our Saturday night livestream concert at the Bop Stop, which is a tribute to Corea, we are celebrating and remembering his creative contributions.
Chick Corea (1941 – 2021)
Inventive, versatile, and energetic pianist Chick Corea was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Named Armando after his trumpet playing/bandleader father, Corea began playing piano at age 4 and drums at age 8–the latter instrument most certainly informing his wonderfully sophisticated and rhythmic left hand.
He broke in playing with Cab Calloway, then with the Latin groups of Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo, and finally with Herbie Mann and Blue Mitchell before going solo.
His first album as a leader was in 1966 with Tones for Joan’s Bones, and in 1967 he was a sideman with Sarah Vaughan and Stan Getz. His 1968 release Now He Sings, Now He Sobs with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes cemented his place in jazz history.
Here is the title track from that album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Time with Miles
Corea then replaced Herbie Hancock in Miles Davis’ ensemble and played electric piano on Davis’ transitional albums Filles de Kilimanjaro, In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and Miles Davis at the Fillmore.
Live in Rome, 1969, here is Chick Corea with Miles Davis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
After leaving Davis in 1970, Corea associated himself with avant garde players like Anthony Braxton but soon changed direction once again. In 1972, he performed the first of many duo recordings with Gary Burton on Crystal Silence (other great duo recordings include those with Béla Fleck and Herbie Hancock), and formed the band Return To Forever. This ensemble began as a group performing music in a Brazilian style, but morphed into one of the most important early jazz fusion ensembles with Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola, and Lenny White forming the core of the group.
Check out NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert with Chick Corea and Gary Burton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
The remainder of the next two decades saw Corea vacillating between acoustic and electric ensembles (he even had groups called Chick Corea Akoustic Band and the Chick Corea Elektric Band).
Over the course of his career, he was named a NEA Jazz Master, and he won 25 Grammy Awards (with over 60 nominations). In addition to his work in jazz, Corea also made a number of great classically oriented recordings, both of his own works and those of others. His many inventive compositions have become standards–including “Spain,” “La Fiesta,” “Litha,” “Tones for Joan’s Bones,” “Crystal Silence,” “Captain Marvel,” and “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs.” With his passing earlier this year, he leaves behind a beautiful legacy of music and inspiration.
- “Armando’s Rhumba” was titled as a tribute to his father: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- Performing “Spain,” here is Corea and Bobby McFerrin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- From his album The Mad Hatter, here’s “Humpty Dumpty”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- You can also watch the Newport Jazz Festival Tribute to Corea, hosted by Christian McBride: https://newportfestivals.org/
Saturday, May 8th, 8 p.m.
To continue our celebration of Chick Corea’s artistry, tune in on Saturday, when we’ll have our next livestream concert at the Bop Stop!
The CJO Little Big Band will be joined by Bob Fraser and Robin Hughes for a “Tribute to Chick Corea.”