Chick Corea

Chick Corea was born into jazz. Born as Armando Corea on June 12, 1941 in Chelsea, Massachusetts, his father was a Dixieland trumpeter who had led a jazz band in Boston in the ‘30s. His father started teaching him the piano at age 4, and at age 8, he took up the drums as well. Yet he also received a different sort of musical education during this time: Growing up surrounded by jazz records by beboppers Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell.

Jazz gave way to more classical training once Corea started learning under concert pianist Salvatore Sullo, who piqued his interest in composition and music theory. In his late teens, Corea moved to New York City to study music at Columbia University and Juilliard. (Of course, he never fully abandoned jazz. In high school, he formed a band that played Horace Silver covers at a local club.)

Corea eventually dropped out of college, but decided to stay in New York to pursue a professional career. His first gig was with Cab Calloway in the early ‘60s, but he had his first big break playing with Latin musicians Herbie Mann, Willie Bobo, and Mongo Santamaría. During this time, he developed the Latin-tinged sound that would become his signature. One of the first instances of this style can be found on “Chick’s Tune,” an original composition of Corea’s found on Mitchell’s 1964 album The Thing To Do.

After a brief accompaniment to Sarah Vaughn in 1967, Corea made a name for himself with the 1968 album Now He Sings, Now He Sobs. Now He Sings solidified Corea’s position in the New York jazz scene. Though already well known, the compositional skills and piano playing displayed on this album made Corea a leader of the avant-garde. Always on the cutting edge, Miles Davis recognized his talent, and had Corea replace Herbie Hancock in his band later that year.

Corea, Davis, and bandmates Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, and Tony Williams would create the most innovative jazz to date -- and would record some of Davis’ greatest hits. Filles de Kilimanjaro and Bitches Brew are just two of the seminal albums they recorded together. This period is characterized by free improvisation, elements of rock music, and even a brief transition to electric instruments. The most notable instance of the latter being an all-electric performance on August 29, 1970 at the Isle of Wight Festival in England.

Later that year, Corea broke away to form his own band with fellow Davis alum Dave Holland. Named Circle, the band took free-form, avant-garde jazz to new heights. The band was known for its atonal playing style, as well as its interesting use of instruments, such as Corea simply plucking the strings inside the body of the piano. The band only lasted a year, but in that time, Corea stretched the limits of jazz and recorded three seminal records: Paris-Concert and two solo albums, Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1 and 2.

After Circle disbanded in 1971, Corea immediately formed Return to Forever. Signifying yet another innovation in jazz, Corea broke away from free jazz and turned toward fusion jazz. This era of his career draws heavily upon his Latin roots. His style is most easily seen on the 1972 single “Spain,” also his most popular single to date.

In the mid-’70s, Return to Forever began incorporating elements of rock for an even more complex fusion sound. Electric guitarist Bill Connors was added to the group in 1973, and by the middle of the decade, Corea and his band were as much rock stars as jazz masters. With great crossover appeal, Return to Forever were massively popular, and were even awarded a Grammy for the 1975 album No Mystery.

Return to Forever broke up in 1978 as Corea eventually gravitated toward more personal projects, especially duets with old friends. He and Herbie Hancock teamed up that same year to tour the country with piano duets, and the two even recorded two albums together: 1978’s Corea/Hancock and 1980's An Evening with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. Duets would become Corea’s signature during much of the ‘80s, though he would return to larger groups, most notable being the Chick Corea Elektric Band, in the ‘90s.

Corea continues to constantly reinvent the definition of jazz. Through his numerous collaborations, recordings, and performances, Corea has constantly found ways to play with sound. What you see here is just a few of his most notable projects. From Latin jazz to free-form composition and jazz-tinged hard rock, Chick Corea has done it all. You’d be hard-pressed to find another jazz musician that has so consistently questioned what “jazz” even means. With a highly acclaimed career that continues today, Chick Corea is the definition of “avant garde.”

Chick Corea Videos

Chick Corea & The Vigil - Galaxy 32 star 4 - Zycopolis TV

Chick Corea and The Vigil -- "Galaxy 32 Star 4"

Chick Corea is one of the most innovative pianists and composers of our lifetime; here his group The Vigil performs "Galaxy 32 Star 4." The group

Chick Corea   The Ultimate Adventure 2007 Full Album

Chick Corea Live in Barcelona -- "The Ultimate Adventure"

"The Ultimate Adventure" is an album recorded by the legendary jazz pianist Chick Corea in 2006.

Chick Corea - Improvisation 2 Chick Solo - Zycopolis TV

"Improvisation 2" -- Chick Corea

When you compose so many great hits, it's understandable that you'll run out of titles.

Chick Corea & Gary Burton: Love Castle

"Love Castle" -- Chick Corea and Gary Burton

The tones are flurrying in fast to kick off "Love Castle," performed here by two of the greatest at their instruments -- Chick Corea (piano) and

Part 2: Chick Corea: Documentary of Legendary Jazz Great, Pianist and Composer, Chick Corea (pt. 2)

Chick Corea's Mini-Documentary: Part 2

Gary Burton opens this second half of the mini-documentary on Chick Corea by talking about the "accident" that would become many great duets feat

Mirror Image Piano Exercises - Piano Drill for Dexterity Used by Chick Corea

Chick Corea Teaches a Mirror Image Dexterity Drill for "Online Music Workshop"

Chick Corea is not only a master technician on the piano; he's also an accomplished educator.

Amazing Performance by Chick Corea on LEGENDS OF JAZZ

"Legends of Jazz": Chick Corea

"Legends of Jazz" was a public television show that ran for 13 weeks in 2006 and was hosted by Grammy Award-winning pianist Ramsey Lewis.


Chick Corea and Touchstone Live at Jazz at Vienne

Joining the immense lineup of incredible groups led by Chick Corea is one of his latest projects, Touchstone.

Chick Corea & Friedrich Gulda - 2 Pianos Jazz Improvisation

Chick Corea and Friedrich Gulda Do an Improvisational Duet

Chick Corea and Friedrich Gulda are two of the world's most renowned pianists; Corea of the American jazz and avant-garde field, Gulda of the Eur

[piano lesson] Chick Corea - Keyboard Workshop.avi

Chick Corea Gives an Electric Workshop

Chick Corea is known for creating many different groups over the years, from Return to Forever to Origin and his Three Quartets band.


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