Chick Corea
(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Tones For Joan's Bones (1966), 7/10
Sweet Rain (1967), 5.5/10
Now He Sings Now He Sobs (1968), 7/10
Is (1969), 7/10
Sundance (1969), 5.5/10
The Song of Singing (1970), 5/10
The Gathering (1971), 7/10
A.R.C. (1971), 5/10
Piano Improvisations (1971), 7/10
Crystal Silence (1972), 5.5/10
Return to Forever (1972), 7/10
Light as a Feather (1972), 7.5/10
Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (1973), 6/10
Where Have I Known You Before (1974), 6/10
No Mystery (1975), 6/10
The Leprechaun (1975), 5.5/10
My Spanish Heart (1976), 6/10
Romantic Warrior (1976), 7/10
The Mad Hatter (1977), 5.5/10
MusicMagic (1977), 6/10
Friends (1978), 5.5/10
Secret Agent (1978), 4/10
Delphi (1978), 4/10
Duet (1978), 6/10
Tap Step (1979), 4/10
Live in Montreux (1981), 6/10
Three Quartets (1981), 6.5/10
Again and Again (1982), 5.5/10
Lyric Suite for Sextet (1982), 6/10
Fantasy for Two Pianos (1984), 5.5/10
Septet (1984), 6/10
Elektric Band (1986), 5/10
Light Years (1987), 5/10
Akoustic Band (1989), 5/10
Alive (1989), 5/10
Play (1990), 4/10
Inside Out (1990), 6.5/10
Beneath the Mask (1991), 4/10
Paint the World (1993), 4/10
Expressions (1994), 4/10
Time Warp (1995), 4/10
Native Sense (1997), 5.5/10
Live at the Blue Note (1997), 5/10
A Week at the Blue Note (1998), 5/10
Change (1999), 5/10
Corea Concerto (1999), 5.5/10
The Solo Piano (1999), 5/10
Past, Present & Futures (2000), 5/10
Rendezvous in New York (2001), 5/10
To the Stars (2003), 4/10
The Ultimate Adventure (2005), 5/10
Forever (2009), 5.5/10
Forever (2009), 5/10
The Continents (2011), 5.5/10
The Musician (2011), 5/10
The Vigil (2013), 5/10
Trilogy (2014), 7/10
Trilogy 2 (2019), 7/10
Chinese Butterfly (2018), 5/10

Boston's white pianist Armando "Chick" Corea (1941) moved to New York in 1961 and cut his teeth in Latin-jazz combos. He rapidly transitioned from the hard bop of Tones For Joan's Bones (december 1966), also released as Inner Space, with the lengthy Litha and Straight up and Down (Woody Shaw on trumpet, Joe Farrell on flute and tenor saxophone, Steve Swallow on bass, Joe Chambers on drums), to the free jazz of Now He Sings Now He Sobs (march 1968), with Steps Now He Sings Now He Sobs, in a trio with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Roy Haynes. Corea used Bud Powell's style as a launching pad but expanded it with a lyrical, chromatic, percussive and fibrillating technique.

After collaborating with Stan Getz on Sweet Rain (1967), Corea was hired by Miles Davis to replace Herbie Hancock on electric piano.

After leaving Davis, Corea formed Circle, a quartet with avantgarde saxophonist Anthony Braxton, double-bassist Dave Holland and drummer Barry Altschul. The Gathering (may 1971) contained only one 42-minute Corea composition, the title-track, and each of the four members played multiple instruments. Circle was exploring the boundaries of free jazz and classical avantgarde, and Braxton would make an entire career out of that idea.

At first Corea continued that exploration of extremely free forms with Is (june 1969), mainly taken up by the 29-minute Is, and Sundance (may 1969), both in the company of trumpeter Woody Shaw, flutist Hubert Laws, tenor saxophonist Bennie Maupin, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette and a second drummer, and with The Song of Singing (april 1970) and A.R.C. (january 1971), both in a trio with Holland and Altschul, although the material was often uneven and inconclusive.

But then he pulled back from the brink of the abyss of the avantgarde. He penned two volumes of Piano Improvisations (april 1971), including Sometime Ago, the eight-movement suite Where Are You Now and (on the second volume) the five-movement A New Place, that were romantic and impressionistic. He devoted a collaboration with vibraphonist Gary Burton, Crystal Silence (november 1972), to melodic chamber jazz. And he formed one of the pioneering fusion bands, Return to Forever, with Brazilian vocalist Flora Purim, reed player Joe Farrell, bassist Stanley Clarke and Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira, and rediscovered his Latin roots. Return To Forever (february 1972) introduced a new standard of light jazz via the melodic Return To Forever, the oneiric Crystal Silence, and the 23-minute medley of Sometime Ago and the effervescent La Fiesta. Light as a Feather (october 1972) was even more relaxed (bordering on balladry) and included Light as a Feather, 500 Miles High and one of Corea's most famous compositions, Spain (basically a rewrite of Steps). Compared with the other fusion bands of the time, this first version of Return To Forever displayed more of a spiritual than an earthly tone. The rock element was kept in the background, overwhelmed by a neoclassical sensibility. But the sound changed dramatically on Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (august 1973), recorded by a Return To Forever that was a rocking (and not so much Latin) quartet with Corea on electric keyboards, Clarke, electric guitarist Bill Connors (specialized in the distorted sound of psychedelic rock) and drummer Lenny White. The influence of Herbie Hancock and the Mahavishnu Orchestra was felt in Captain Senor Mouse and Space Circus. With the virtuoso guitarist Al DiMeola replacing Connors, Clarke coining a funky style at the electric bass and Corea embracing the synthesizer, Return To Forever cut the very popular trilogy of Where Have I Known You Before (july 1974), with the 14-minute Song to the Pharoah Kings, No Mystery (january 1975), with the Celebration Suite and No Mystery, and the medieval concept Romantic Warrior (february 1976), with Romantic Warrior and Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant, that mimicked British progressive-rock of the early 1970s both in sound and in theme. MusicMagic (february 1977) was a Return To Forever album only in name because it featured a 13-piece orchestra and vocals (and no electric guitar)

In the meantime Corea was flooding the market with erratic recordings, ranging from the gargantuan The Leprechaun (1975), that included The Leprechaun, to My Spanish Heart (october 1976), featuring vocals, synthesizer, string quartet and brass section, that included the multi-movement suites El Bozo and Spanish Fantasy, from The Mad Hatter (november 1977), with the Mad Hatter Rhapsody, to the quartet session of Friends (january 1978), with Samba Song and Friends, and some truly awful albums such as Secret Agent (june 1978) and Tap Step (december 1979). The three volumes of Delphi (october 1978) proved that Corea had lost whatever inspiration he may have had.

An artistic rebirth of sort was signaled by Live in Montreaux (july 1981), a quartet session with Joe Henderson on tenor sax, Gary Peacock on bass and Roy Haynes on drums that performed lengthy versions of Corea's Hairy Canary, Folk Song, Psalm and Quintet No 2, and especially by the acoustic Three Quartets (february 1981) with tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Steve Gadd, containing Quartet No 1, Quartet No 2 and Quartet No 3. Quintet No 3 appeared on Again & Again (march 1982). Corea's classical ambitions surfaced unabashedly on Fantasy for Two Pianos (1984), a collaboration with classical pianist Friedrich Gulda (a Mozart program); Duet Suite off Duet (october 1978), his second collaboration with Gary Burton, the seven-movement Lyric Suite for Sextet (september 1982), for piano, bass (Gary Burton) and a string quartet, and the five-movement Septet (october 1984).

Corea rarely ventured into free jazz anymore. The reunion with Vitous and Haynes, Trio Music (november 1981), contained five trio improvisations and two Corea-Vitous improvisations. Voyage (july 1984) was a set of improvised duets with flutist Steve Kujala.

In 1985 Corea formed the Elektrik band with virtuoso electric bassist John Patitucci, drummer Dave Weckl and a guitarist, indulging himself in the synthesizer. Elektric Band (january 1986), Light Years (may 1987), that expanded the quartet to a quintet with altoist Eric Marienthal and introduced new guitarist Frank Gambale, and Eye of the Beholder (may 1988) were collections of short fusion pieces. The band peaked with Inside Out (january 1990), that contained the 20-minute four-movement suite Tale Of Daring, and broke up after the mediocre Beneath the Mask (august 1991).

This project was followed by its antithesis, the Akoustic Band, a traditional jazz trio with Weckl and Patitucci that recorded Akoustic Band (january 1989) and Alive (december 1989). Lacking memorable compositions, the albums mainly highlighted the virtuoso playing of the bassist and the drummer.

Corea never hesitated to release an awful album, as proven by Play (summer 1990), a collaboration with vocalist Bobby McFerrin, the solo piano album Expressions (may 1994) the new Elektric Band's Paint the World (september 1993), the philosophical concept Time Warp (august 1995) for acoustic quartet, etc.

Native Sense (july 1997) was a new collaboration with vibraphonist Gary Burton and contained the nine-minute Rhumbata.

Origin, Corea's new acoustic project, recorded Live at The Blue Note (december 1997), A Week at The Blue Note (january 1998) and Change (january 1999).

His Piano Concerto, documented on Corea Concerto (april 1999), was scored for a symphony orchestra and jazz trio (Origin).

The Solo Piano (november 1999) and the trio Past, Present & Futures (september 2000) were hardly revolutionary.

The marathon Rendezvous In New York (december 2001) celebrated his 60th birthday. To the Stars (2003) was another lame Elektric Band reunion album. The Ultimate Adventure (2005) was another philosophical concept.

The double-CD Forever (recorded in 2009) documents the first ever trio by Chick Corea (here on piano and keyboards), Stanley Clarke (on acoustic and electric bass) and drummer Lenny White.

The mediocre double-disc set Forever (september 2009) documents live performances of the trio with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White.

The double-disc The Continents: Concerto For Jazz Quintet & Chamber Orchestra (june 2011) is mainly devoted to the eponymous concerto. The jazz quintet is: Chick Corea (on piano), Tim Garland (on soprano sax, bass clarinet, flute), Hans Glawishnig (bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums) and Steve Davis (trombone).

The Vigil (january 2013) features the leader on grand piano and keyboards, backed by Tim Garland (tenor and soprano sax, bass clarinet, flute), Charles Altura (electric and acoustic guitar), Hadrien Feraud (bass), Roy Haynes' grandson Marcus Gilmore (drums), Pernell Saturnino (percussion), Gayle Moran Corea (vocals), Stanley Clarke (bass) and Ravi Coltrane (sax).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Simone Simionato)

Pianista bianco originario di Boston, Armando “Chick” Corea (1941) si trasferi' a New York nel 1961, dove si fece le ossa in complessi Latin-jazz. Come leader rapidamente passo' dall'hard-bop di Tones For Joan's Bones (dicembre 1966, distribuito anche come Inner Space), contenente le composizioni lunghe Litha e Straight up and Down (Woody Shaw alla tromba, Joe Farrell al flauto e al sax tenore, Steve Swallow al basso, Joe Chambers alla batteria), al free jazz di Now He Sings Now He Sobs (marzo 1968), che comprende Steps e Now He Sings Now He Sobs, in trio con il bassista Miroslav Vitous e il batterista Roy Haynes.  Per Corea lo stile di Bud Powell  fu come una base, che espanse con una fibrillante tecnica dai toni lirici, cromatica e percussiva.

Dopo la collaborazione con Stan Getz in Sweet Rain (1967), Corea fu assunto da Miles Davis per rimpiazzare Herbie Hancock al piano elettrico.

Lasciato Davis, Corea fondo' Circle, un quartetto composto dal sassofonista d'avanguardia Anthony Braxton, dal contrabbassista Dave Holland e dal batterista Barry Altschul. The Gatering (maggio 1971) consiste in una sola composizione di Corea di quarantadue minuti che da' il titolo all'album, nella quale ognuno dei quattro musicisti suona piu' strumenti. Circle esplorava i legami tra free jazz e avanguardia classica, e Braxton avrebbe fatto un'intera carriera a partire da questa idea.

Inizialmente Corea prosegui' la sua esplorazione di forme estremamente libere con Is (giugno 1969), occupato per la maggior parte dai ventinove minuti di Is, e Sundance (maggio 1969), entrambi in compagnia del trombettista Woody Shaw,  del flautista Hubert Laws, del sassofonista tenore Bennie Maupin, del bassista Dave Holland e del batterista Jack De Johnette, piu' un secondo batterista. Continuo' poi la sperimentazione con The Song of Singing (aprile 1970) e A.R.C. (gennaio 1971), entrambi in trio con Holland e Altschul, sebbene il materiale fosse spesso disuguale e privo di una precisa direzione.

Presto tuttavia si allontano' dall'abisso dell'avanguardia. Scrisse i due volumi di Piano Improvisations (aprile 1971), opera romantica e impressionista contenente Sometime Ago, la suite in otto movimenti Where Are You Now e (nel secondo volume) i cinque movimenti di A New Place. Dedico' la collaborazione con il vibrazioista Gary Burton, Crystal Silence (novembre 1972), al jazz melodico da camera. Nel frattempo riscopri' le sue radici latine e formo' uno dei primi gruppi fusion, i Return To Forever, con la vocalist brasiliana Flora Purim, Joe Farrell agli ottoni, il bassista Stanley Clarke e il percussionista brasiliano Airto Moreira. Return To Forever (febbraio 1972) introdusse un nuovo standard di light jazz grazie alla melodica Return To Forever, l'onirica Crystal Silence, la medley di ventitre' minuti Sometime Ago e l'effervescente La Fiesta. Light as a Feather (ottobre 1972) e' un album ancora piu' disteso, quasi  una raccolta di ballate, e include Light as a Feather, 500 Miles High e Spain, uno dei pezzi piu' famosi di Corea (fondamentalmente una riscrittura di Steps). Rispetto alle altre ban d fusion del periodo, la prima versione dei Return To Forever dimostra un carattere piuttosto spirituale che terreno. L'elemento rock resta nel sottofondo, sopraffatto da una sensibilita' neoclassica. Lo stile della band cambio' in modo drammatico in Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (agosto 1973), registrato da un Return To Forever in formato rock e non piu' tanto latino: un quartetto con Corea alle tastiere, Clarke, il chitarrista elettrico Bill Connors (specializzato nelle distorsioni del rock psichedelico) e il batterista Lenny White. L'influenza di Herbie Hancock e della Mahavishnu Orchestra si fa sentire in Captain Senor Mouse e Space Circus. Con il virtuoso Al DiMeola al posto di Connors alle chitarre, Clarke che conia il suo stile funk al basso elettrico e Corea al sintetizzatore, i Return To Forever registrarono la celebre trilo gia di Where Have I Known You Before (luglio 1974), con i quattordici minuti di Song to the Pharoah Kings; No Mystery (gennaio 1975), con Celebration Suite e No Mystery e il concept medievale Romantic Warrior (febbraio 1976), che annovera Romantic Warrior e Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant, imitando con quest'ultimo il progressive-rock britannico dei primi '70 tanto nel sound come nei temi. In MusicMagic del febbraio 1977 Return To Forever e' solo un nome, dal momento che nell'album suona un'orchestra di tredici componenti, con voce e senza chitarra elettrica.

Durante lo stesso periodo Corea inondava il mercato con album eccentrici, dal gargantuesco  The Leprechaun (1975), contenente The Leprechaun, a My Spanish Hearth (ottobre 1976), comprendente voce, sintetizzatore, quartetto d'archi e sezione di legni, con le suite a piu' movimenti El Bozo e Spanish Fantasy. Da The Mad Hatter (novembre 1977), contenente The Mad Hatter Rhapsody, alla sessione per quartetto di Friends (gennaio 1978), con Samba Song e Friends, oltre ad alcuni album davvero infelici come Secret Agent (giugno 1978) e Tap Step (dicembre 1979). I tre volumi di Delphi (ottobre 1978) sono la prova che Corea ha smarrito qualsiasi ispirazione possa mai aver avuto.

Sembra di avvertire una sorta di rinascita artistica in Live in Montreaux (luglio 1981), sessione per un  quartetto con Joe Henderson al sax tenore, Gary Peacock al basso e Roy Haynes alla batteria, che suonava versioni lunghe di composizioni di Corea quali Hairy Canary, Folk Song, Psalm e Quintet No 2; e soprattutto nell'acustico Three Quartets (febbraio 1981), con il sassofonista tenore Michael Brecker, il bassista Eddie Gomez e il batterista Steve Gadd, comprendente Quartet No 1, Quartet No 2 e Quartet No 3. Quintet No 3 apparve in Again & Again (marzo 1982). Le ambizioni classiche di Corea vennero spudoratamente alla luce in Fantasy for Two Pianos (1984), collaborazione con il pianista classico Friedrich Gulda su un programma di Mozart; in Duet Suite da Duet (ottobre 1978), la sua seconda collaborazione con Gary Burton; nei sette movimenti di Lyric Suite for Sextet (settembre 1982), per piano, basso (Gary Burton) e quartetto d'archi, e nella suite in cinque movimenti Septet (ottobre 1984).

Corea si cimenta nel free jazz solo di rado ormai. La reunion con Vitous e Haynes, Trio Music (novembre 1981)  conteneva cinque improvvisazioni del trio e due di Corea e Vitous. Voyage (luglio 1984) e' un set di improvvisazioni in duetto con il flautista Steve Kujala.

Nel 1985 Corea formo' la Elektric Band con il virtuoso bassista elettrico John Patitucci, il batterista Dave Weckl e un chitarrista, concedendosi l'uso del sintetizzatore. Elektric Band (gennaio 1986), Light Years (del maggio 1987, la formazione espansa in un quintetto con l'altoista Eric Marienthal e il nuovo chitarrista Frank Gambale) e Eye of the Beholder (maggio 1988), erano raccolte di brani fusion di breve durata. Il miglior prodotto della band e' Inside Out (gennaio 1990), che include la suite in quattro movimenti di venti minuti Tale Of Daring. La band si sciolse dopo il mediocre Beneath the Mask (agosto 1991).

A questo progetto segui' la sua antitesi, l'Akoustic Band, un trio jazz tradizionale con Weckl e Patitucci che registro' Akoustic Band (gennaio 1989) e Alive (dicembre 1989). Privi di composizioni degne di nota, questi album puntavano per lo piu' sul virtuosismo del bassista e del batterista.

Corea non si e' mai fatto troppi scrupoli a realizzare un album orrendo, come dimostrano Play (estate 1990), collaborazione con il vocalista Bobby McFerrin; Expressions (maggio 1994), per solo piano; Paint the World (settembre 1993), ancora con la Elektric Band; il concept filosofico Time Warp (agosto 1995), per quartetto acustico, etc.

Native Sense (luglio 1997) e' una nuova collabrazione con il vibrafonista Gary Burton che annovera i nove minuti di Rhumbata.

Con Origin, il suo nuovo progetto acustico, Corea registro' Live at the Blue Note (dicembre 1997), A Week at The Blue Note (gennaio 1998) e Change (gennaio 1999).

Il suo Piano Concerto, presente in Corea Concerto (aprile 1999), era una composizione per orchestra sinfonica e trio jazz (i suoi Origin).

Solo Piano (novembre 1999) e il trio Past, Present & Futures (settembre 2000), difficilmente si possono dire rivoluzionari.

La maratona Rendezvous In New York (dicembre 2001) celebrava il suo sessantesimo compleanno. To the Stars (2003) e' lo sfortunato prodotto di un'altra reunion con la Elektric Band. The Ultimate Adventure (2005) e' un altro concept album filosofico.

Nel doppio CD Forever (registrato nel 2009) suona il trio inedito di Chick Corea (piano e keyboards), Stanley Clarke (basso elettrico e acustico) e Lenny White (batteria). Si tratta di un prodotto mediocre che documenta le esibizioni live del trio nel tour del 2009, pubblicato nel 2011.

The Continents: Concerto For Jazz Quintet & Chamber Orchestra (giugno 2011) e' un altro doppio CD dedicato per la maggior parte al concerto eponimo. Il quintetto jazz e' formato da: Chick Corea al piano, Tim Garland (sax soprano, clarinetto basso, flauto), Hans Glawishnig (basso), Marcus Gilmore (batteria) e Steve Davis (trombone).

The triple-disc box-set The Musician documents 10 different bands for a total of 28 musicians performing live in 2011.

Chinese Butterfly (Concord, 2018) was a collaboration with Steve Gadd.

The triple-disc Trilogy (2013) documented the trio formed with Christian McBride (bass) and Brian Blade (drums), collecting live performances of 2010 and 2012 (notably the 30-minute piano sonata The Moon).

The double-disc Trilogy 2 (2019) collects live performances of 2010-16, mostly devoted to covers and standards, for example a 16-minute version of Now He Sings Now He Sobs.

The Montreux Years contains his performances at that festival from 1988 to 2010, notably: two compositions with his New Trio, featuring Avishai Cohen (bass) and Jeff Ballard (drums) in 2001; his Freedom Band, along with Christian McBride (double bass), Roy Haynes (bass) and Kenny Garrett (saxophone) in 2010; his Akoustic Band, with John Patitucci (bass) and Tom Brechtlein (drums) in 1988; his Elektric Band, again with Patitucci, ave Weckl (drums), Frank Gambale (guitar) and Eric Marienthal (saxophone) in 2004; two compositions with his Quartet, along with Patitucci, Gary Novak (drums) and BOB Berg (saxophone), in 1993; the Bavarian Chamber Philarmonic Orchestra, with another Quartet, comprising of Hans Glawischnig (bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums) and Tim Garland (sax and flute), in 2006.

Corea died in 2021.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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