Chick Corea is a famous American jazz pianist, composer, and keyboardist, who is most well known for his wide ranging and diverse styles of play. He has played almost every genre of jazz and is one of the most influential of all modern jazz musicians.
He began his career playing in New York City in 1960’s and was soon working with several great Latin musicians of the time which would influence his music to have a Latin twinge to it. This style is very evident in many of his earlier compositions and recordings.
In the late 1960’s, Corea worked for several years with Miles Davis which would further change the way he approached piano playing and begin his exploration into jazz fusion. By this time he had released multiple albums as the leader of his own group and was already receiving much critical acclaim. The 1970’s saw Corea go through an avant garde period before he really began exploring rock jazz fusion on his own with his band Return to Forever.
This period also saw him win his first of 18 Grammy Awards for the 1975 album No Mystery. He continued to develop his own unique style of playing both acoustic piano and electric keyboard over the course of his career, and has constantly migrated throughout different genres of jazz and also modern classical composition as well. Core still continues to record and tour extensively, and is still winning awards, including two more Grammys in 2012.
Despite his age, Corea continues to be at the forefront of modern jazz and he continues to develop and reinvent himself. He was named Down Beat magazine’s artist of the year in 20120 and is also in their Jazz Hall of Fame, and is generally considered to be one of the few great living legends of jazz.
Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea is a famous jazz pianist/keyboardist who has been one of the most influential figures in jazz for the past fifty plus years. Chick Corea was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts on June 12, 1941. He started playing the piano at age 4, and was pushed into music by his father, Armando, who was a jazz trumpeter, playing in many Dixieland bands in his earlier days.
Chick Corea grew up with jazz as a major part of his life, and was influenced early on by the bebop jazz musicians of the day such as Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and Dizzy Gillespie. While he started to study piano at an early age, he would soon learn to play the drums as well, which influenced him to view his piano playing as more of a percussion instrument. This early exposure to classical music also led Corea to develop an interest in musical composition as well.
In the early 60’s, Corea moved to New York City and briefly studied music at both The Julliard School and Columbia University, although he quickly dropped out but stayed in the city to play music. He quickly landed gigs playing with Latin musicians such as Willie Bobo, Mongo Santamaria, and Herbie Mann. This early influence shows in his work and his use of rhythms has a distinctly Latin feel.
Corea’s first recording as a leader of a band was in 1966 when he recorded Tones For Joan’s Bones, although it was his 1968 album Now He Sings, Now He Sobs recorded as trio with drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Miroslav Vitous that would become an instant favorite amongst jazz enthusiasts and is still considered a classic to this day. Later that year, he got a gig as a member of Miles Davis’ band, and played electric piano on the influential In Filles de Kilimanjaro album, and would play on several more recordings over the next two years including the famous Bitches’ Brew album.
The early 70’s saw Corea go through a brief avant-garde period and then form one of his most famous bands Return to Forever. It was during this time that we would also write his most famous composition “Spain” which has since been covered by numerous jazz greats. However, it was in 1973 that Corea’s trademark jazz fusion style would start to become more prevalent as Return to Forever added an electric guitar and powerful drums for a full jazz rock experience.
In 1975, Corea received his first Grammy award for the album No Mystery. He has since gone on to win 18 Grammy awards and 2 Latin Grammys. He won his most recent two Grammy in 2012 for the album Forever.
Corea has been one of the most prolific jazz musicians ever, releasing over 90 albums and recordings over the course of his fifty plus year career as a jazz keyboardist. He continues to tour and record quite extensively with a variety of other musicians from jazz and other genres.
Chick Corea is an innovative and influential American jazz piano player, keyboardist, and composer. For the past fifty years, he has been one of the most groundbreaking jazz musicians, whether it is playing acoustic jazz piano or electric keyboard. Throughout his career, he has played many styles including jazz fusion, avant garde, bebop and Latin jazz. In fact, he was one of the early innovators of electric jazz fusion, especially during the short time he spent with Miles Davis’ band, during which time he played on numerous classic albums such as Bitches Brew.
His style is heavily influenced by the bebop musicians he listened to as a child such as Bud Powell, as well as the Latin greats, like Herbie Mann, that he worked with early on in his career. Another major influence on his view of piano playing was his fondness for the drums as a child which allowed him to see the piano as an extension of the percussion instruments and even as percussion itself. All of these aspects are very prevalent in both Corea’s playing style and composition, and are very evident in “Spain,” his most famous composition.
Still, throughout Corea’s career, his playing style has changed and evolved, after going through periods where he explored many new jazz genres. Still, he is probably best known his exploratory electric keyboard playing which is very visible in his jazz fusion recordings, especially in those he made with the Elektric Band and Return to Forever.
Even at this later stage of his career, Corea continues to play and record in many different jazz genres and to reinvent his own style and sound. Overall, he is known as one of the most inspiring and creative jazz musicians of his time, and he continues to explore and try out new genres and forms constantly.
Videos and Recordings
Chick Corea playing Spain from the Akoustic Band recording, at the Montreal Jazz Festival:
Chick Corea playing Crystal Silence, from the album Return to Forever: