An introduction to the music of late legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea
Armando Anthony 'Chick' Corea, the 23 time Grammy Award-winning jazz composer/pianist
passed away at 79 due to cancer earlier this month. He was one of the greatest minds in the jazz universe and has contributed immensely to the genre over decades. He was present at the time of the birth of jazz-fusion when he played in Miles Davis's band in the late 1960s and played alongside greats like Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Mcoy Tyner, and Bill Evans. Corea is one of the forerunners of jazz piano post the John Coltrane era. He has recorded over 90 albums in his six-decade long career.
It would take years to listen to all of Chick Corea's work, so here are a few albums to get you started:
Light As a Feather
This is the debut album of the fusion band Return to Forever that Chick formed in the '70s and has been
prolific in the jazz fusion scene. The album contains the song Spain which played a critical role in the history of jazz. The album follows Chick's smooth/Latin jazz style, however, this isn't just any smooth jazz. The album features a lot of twists with Latin roots.
Now He Sings, Now He Sobs
This album is a trio record with Roy Haines on drums and Miroslav Vitous on bass (and the second as leader). The inside sleeve of the album contains a prose poem penned by Chick Corea which was inspired by the Chinese text The I Ching ( The Book Of Changes) which focuses on the vicissitudes of the human condition. His words highlight the fact that everyone will experience along life's journey the states of birth and death, joy and despair, love and hate which are all states of yin and yang.
Tones for Joan's Bones
This was Corea's first session as a bandleader. The album is an advanced hard bop set from 1966 that reflects his harmonic and melodic imagination rendered in flawless rhythm. Tenor player Joe Farrell and trumpeter Woody Shaw as well, who deliver virtuoso performances that are both visceral and cerebral.
“I like people to feel like they’re in my living room and we’re hanging out," Chick Corea says in the Plays press bio. Corea takes you by the hand into an intimate setting leading you through vocal warm-ups bringing laughter and setting you up to absorb the shower of notes and improvisational bliss. Corea is bridging time and artistry throughout the album, he's examining the genius of musicians like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Thelonious Monk, Stevie Wonder, and Antonio Carlos Jobim with their commonalities presented at the fore.
The five decade bond between Chick Corea and drummer Steve Gadd has given birth to this beautiful masterpiece that is pushing the boundaries and creating adventurous music. Brain-storming funk-based work puts, intimate lyrical excursions, and Spanish-inspired improvisations spewing a no boundaries jazz. Chick and steve are accompanied by a band of inspired collaborators: Beninese guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke, saxophonist and flutist Steve Wilson, Cuban bassist Carlitos Del Puerto, and Venezuelan percussionist Luisito Quintero. The album is a realisation of a long-held desire shared by Steve and
Chick to work together.
This album is the result of 4 of the world's most talented musicians working together (Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and Al Di Meola) creating some mind-bending musical interplay. The entire ensemble is highly progressive and discharges high amounts of energy with proficient levels of control. The album must be listened to in the same light as the early Weather Report and The Mahavishnu Orchestra pieces.