Chick Corea's career is an amalgamation of influential, innovative musical ventures. Born Armando Anthony Corea in Chelsea, Mass., on June 12, 1941, Corea began studying piano at age four and enjoyed a childhood home filled with the sounds of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Lester Young, Horace Silver, Beethoven and Mozart.
His earliest compositions were recorded during one of his first professional stints, three years with trumpeter Blue Mitchell ('64-'66), which led to the pianist's first project as a leader, Tones For Jones Bones. Other early gigs included stints with Willie Bobo, Cal Tjader, Herbie Mann, Mongo Santamaria and Sara Vaughan. It was with Miles Davis, however, that he rose to true prominence in the jazz world.
I Hear A Rhapsody (Baker, Fregos, Gasparre)
Round Midnight (Monk, Williams, Hanighen)
On Green Dolphin Street (Kaper, Washington)
Don't Blame Me (Fields, McHugh)
Crystal Silence (Corea, Porter)
What Is This Thing Called Love (C. Porter)
In his years with Davis, Corea played electric piano on the groundbreaking recordings Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way. From there, he formed his own avant-garde improvisational group, Circle, with Dave Holland, Barry Altschul and Anthony Braxton. In 1971, after three years of Circle, Corea changed his focus, forming the influential group Return to Forever. The early edition of that group (which featured the young Stanley Clarke on bass) was a softer, samba-flavored ensemble featuring Flora Purim on vocals, her husband Airto on drums and reedman Joe Farrell. After two albums with this lineup and a few solo piano albums released on the side, Corea moved the group into electronic fusion, incorporating into RTF drummer Lenny White and guitarist Bill Connors.
When RTF disbanded in 1975, Corea delved into a diverse series of recordings with such artists as Herbie Hancock and Gary Burton. Other Corea projects leading up to his mid-'80s formation of the Elektric Band were the Grammy-winning Leprechaun, periodic work with Return to Forever, and projects with Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, Chaka Khan and Nancy Wilson, among others. In 1992, Corea realized a lifelong goal, along with manager Ron Moss, forming Stretch Records, a label committed to stretching musical boundaries and focusing more on freshness and creativity than on musical style.
In 1996 Corea released a recording with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra with Bobby McFerrin as conductor. This was their second recording for Sony Classical, entitled The Mozart Sessions. Their first duet recording, Play, won a Grammy Award.
Toward the end of 1997, Corea decided to once again form a new group, Origin - -with which he could once again perform on acoustic piano. In 1999 Corea completed a recording with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, in Vienna, of his Piano Concerto -- a piece he had written in 1984 and had performed on tour, but had never before recorded. Since then Chick Corea has continued to compose, perform, and record for Stretch Records.
2004 saw the reunion of Corea's Elektric Band and two recordings based on the science fiction novels of L. Ron Hubbard. To The Stars, the 2004 release, was closely followed in 2005 with a musical interpretation of Hubbard's book, The Ultimate Adventure.
This Piano Jazz set was recorded at Corea's L.A. studio, the Madhatter. This is one of the few, if not the only episode that features Marian McPartland on an electric keyboard. She joins Corea on the Fender Rhodes for a duet of the famous tune "Crystal Silence."
Chick Corea Web site
Produced by Josh Jackson at Jazz 88/WBGO-FM, with Brian McCabe; the music mix by Jim Anderson with Aurasonic Limited: Steve Remote, John D'Uva and Robert Carvel. Thanks to Steven Bensusan, Amit Peleg and Jack O'Hara of The Blue Note.
Our show was written and produced by Mark Schramm, with JazzSet Technical Director Duke Markos. Thanks also to Becca Pulliam and audio engineer Lesheck Wojick. Our executive producer is Thurston Briscoe III of WBGO-FM in Newark.
Copyright 2007 NPR