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 & Herbie Hancock- "Malagueña" + interview (Merv Griffin Show 1985)

Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock perform on the Merv Griffin Show

In March 1985, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock were special guests on the Merv in promotion of their awards from Keyboard Magazine, delivered to t

Chick Corea & Gary Burton "Senor Mouse".

"Señor Mouse" -- Chick Corea and Gary Burton

Chick Corea is known for his many duets featuring other prolific jazz masters.

Chick Corea Elektric Band - King Cockroach

"King Cockroach" -- Chick Corea Elektric Band

Chick Corea's Elektric Band is one of the many amazing groups he's compiled over the years; here they are performing Corea's original tune "King

Chick Corea interviewed by Billy Taylor.mpg

Billy Taylor Interviews Chick Corea

CBS Sunday Morning is an American television news program which originally aired on January 28, 1979, and has aired on Sundays ever since.

Chick Corea Elektric Band - Got A Match ?

"Got a Match?" -- Chick Corea Elektric Band

This performance is live from the 1986 Bern Jazz Festival, and it features Chick Corea's Elektric Band playing "Got a Match?" The group consists

Bobby McFerrin & Chick Corea Duet   Vienne 2012

Chick Corea featuring Bobby McFerrin -- "Duet Vienne"

Every year since 1981, France has hosted the Jazz at Vienne festival, an internationally renowned festival featuring some of the greatest musicia

Chick corea and bobby mcferrin - Round Midnight

"Round Midnight" -- Chick Corea and Bobby McFerrin

"Rendezvous in New York" was a celebratory series of performances put together by the great Chick Corea back in 2003.

Chick Corea - The Vigil

Chick Corea talks about The Vigil

Chick Corea is interviewed about his new band, The Vigil, and the upcoming release of their self-titled album.

Chick Corea & Gary Burton - Armando's Rumba

"Armando's Rumba" -- Chick Corea and Gary Burton

There are few pianists who can stand up to Chick Corea's mastery of piano technique composition.

Return to Forever ( Chick Corea)

"Hymn of the 7th Galaxy" -- Return to Forever

Return to Forever was Corea's first easily recognizable and accessible vehicle for him to express the many genius ideas he had trapped in that mi

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