A Rockapaedia Obituary
Chic Corea died aged seventy-nine of cancer on 9th of February , 2021 at his home in Tampa Bay, Florida, United Statws of America . He was survived by his second wife Gayle and two children, Thaddeus and Liana, from his first marriage.
Chic Corea was born as Armando Corea in Chelsea, Massachusetts and was of southern Italian descent. His father, a jazz trumpeter who led a Dixieland band in Boston in the 1930s and 1940s, introduced him to the piano at the age of four. Surrounded by jazz, he was influenced at an early age by bebop and Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Horace Silver, and Lester Young. When he was eight, he took up drums, which would influence his use of the piano as a percussion instrument. Chic developed his piano skills by exploring music on his own. A notable influence was concert pianist Salvatore Sullo, from whom Chic started taking lessons at age eight and who introduced him to classical music, helping spark his interest in musical composition. He also spent several years as a performer and soloist for the St. Rose Scarlet Lancers, a drum and bugle corps based in Chelsea.
Given a black tuxedo by his father, he started playing gigs when in high schoo and enjoyed listening to Herb Pomeroy's band at the time and had a trio that played Horace Silver's music at a local jazz club. He moved to New York City, where he studied music at Columbia University, then transferred to the Juilliard School but quit after finding both disappointing, however, remaining in New York City.
Chic Corea began his professional career in the early 1960s with Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann, and Stan Getz. He recorded his debut album, Tones for Joan's Bones, in 1966 which was released in 1968. Two years later he released a trio album, 'Now He Sings, Now He Sobs', with Roy Haynes and Miroslav Vitous. In live performances, he frequently processed the output of his electric piano with a device called a ring modulator. Using this style, he appeared on multiple Miles Davis albums, including 'Black Beauty: Live at the Fillmore West', and 'Miles Davis at Fillmore: Live at the Fillmore East'. His live performances with the Davis band continued into 1970, with the final touring band he was part of consisting of saxophonist Steve Grossman, electric organist Keith Jarrett, bassist Dave Holland, percussionist Airto Moreira, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and, of course, Davis on trumpet.
Dave Holland and Chic Corea departed the Davis band at the same time to form their own free jazz group, 'Circle', also featuring multi-reed player Anthony Braxton and drummer Barry Altschul. This band was active from 1970 to 1971, and recorded on Blue Note and ECM. Aside from exploring an atonal style, Chic Corea sometimes reached into the body of the piano and plucked the strings. In 1971, Chic Corea decided to work in a solo context, recording the sessions that became 'Piano Improvisations Vol. 1' and 'Piano Improvisations Vol. 2' for ECM in April of that year. The concept of communication with an audience became a big thing for Chic at the time.
Named after their eponymous 1972 album, Chic Corea's Return to Forever band relied on both acoustic and electronic instrumentation and initially drew upon Latin American music styles more than rock music. On their first two records, Return to Forever consisted of Flora Purim on vocals and percussion, Joe Farrell on flute and soprano saxophone, Airto Moreira on drums and percussion, and Stanley Clarke on acoustic double bass. Drummer Lenny White and guitarist Bill Connors later joined Chic Corea and Clarke to form a second version of the group, which blended the earlier Latin music elements with rock and funk-oriented sounds partially inspired by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, led by his Bitches Brew bandmate John McLaughlin. This incarnation of the group recorded the album 'Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy', before Connors' replacement by Al Di Meola, who was present on the subsequent 'Where Have I Known You Before', 'No Mystery', and 'Romantic Warrior'.
In 1976, Chic Corea issued 'My Spanish Heart', influenced by Latin American music and featuring vocalist Gayle Moran (Chic Corea's wife) and electric violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. The album combined jazz and flamenco, supported by Minimoog synthesizer and a horn section.
In the 1970s, Chic Corea started working with vibraphonist Gary Burton, with whom he recorded several duet albums for ECM, including 1972's Crystal Silence. They reunited in 2006 for a concert tour. A new record called 'The New Crystal Silence' was issued in 2008 and won a Grammy Award in 2009. The package includes a disc of duets and another disc with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Toward the end of the 1970s, Chic Corea embarked on a series of concerts with fellow pianist Herbie Hancock. These concerts were presented in elegant settings with both artists dressed formally and performing on concert grand pianos. The two played each other's compositions, as well as pieces by other composers such as Béla Bartók, and duets. In 1982, Chic Corea performed 'The Meeting', a live duet with the classical pianist Friedrich Gulda.
In December 2007, Chic Corea recorded a duet album, The Enchantment, with banjoist Béla Fleck Fleck and Chic Corea toured extensively for the album in 2007. In 2008, Chic Corea collaborated with Japanese pianist Hiromi Uehara on the live album 'Duet (Chick Chic Corea and Hiromi)'. The duo played a concert at Tokyo's Budokan arena. In 2015, Chic reprised the duet concert series with Hancock, again sticking to a dueling-piano format, though both now integrated synthesizers into their repertoire. The first concert in this series was at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle and included improvisations, compositions by the duo, and standards by other composers.
Chic Corea's other bands included the Chic Corea Elektric Band, its trio reduction called “Akoustic Band”, Origin, and its trio reduction called the New Trio. Chic Corea signed a record deal with GRP Records in 1986 which led to the release of ten albums between 1986 and 1994, seven with the Elektric Band, two with the Acoustic Band, and a solo album, 'Expressions'. The Acoustic Band released a self-titled album in 1989 and a live follow-up, Alive in 1991, both featuring John Patitucci on bass and Dave Weckl on drums. It marked a return to traditional jazz trio instrumentation in Chic Corea's career, and the bulk of his subsequent recordings have featured acoustic piano. They provided the music for the 1986 Pixar short Luxo Jr. with their song "The Game Maker".
In 2001, the Chick Corea New Trio, with bassist Avishai Cohen, and drummer Jeff Ballard, released the album Past, Present & Futures. The eleven-song album includes only one standard (Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz"). The rest of the tunes are Chic Corea originals. He participated in 1998's Like Minds with old associates Gary Burton on vibraphone, Dave Holland on bass, Roy Haynes on drums, and Pat Metheny on guitars.
During the later part of his career, Chic Corea also explored contemporary classical music. He composed his first piano concerto – and an adaptation of his signature piece, "Spain", for a full symphony orchestra – and performed it in 1999 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Five years later he composed his first work without keyboards: his String Quartet No. 1 was written for the Orion String Quartet and performed by them at 2004's Summerfest in Wisconsin.
Chic Corea continued recording fusion albums such as To the Stars (2004) and Ultimate Adventure (2006). The latter won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group. In 2008, the third version of Return to Forever (Chic Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and Al Di Meola) reunited for a worldwide tour. The reunion received positive reviews from jazz and mainstream publications. Most of the group's studio recordings were re-released on the compilation Return to Forever: The Anthology to coincide with the tour. A concert DVD recorded during their performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival was released in May 2009. He also worked on a collaboration CD with the vocal group The Manhattan Transfer.
A new group, the Five Peace Band, began a world tour in October 2008. The ensemble included John McLaughlin whom Chic Corea had previously worked with in Miles Davis's late 1960s bands, including the group that recorded Davis's classic album Bitches Brew. Joining Chic Corea and McLaughlin were saxophonist Kenny Garrett and bassist Christian McBride. Drummer Vinnie Colaiuta played with the band in Europe and on select North American dates; Brian Blade played all dates in Asia and Australia, and most dates in North America. The vast reach of Chic Corea's music was celebrated in a 2011 retrospective with Chic Corea guesting with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; a New York Times reviewer had high praise for the occasion writing: Mr. Chic Corea was masterly with the other musicians, absorbing the rhythm and feeding the soloists. It sounded like a band, and Mr. Chic Corea had no need to dominate; his authority was clear without raising volume.
A new band, Chick Corea & The Vigil, featured Chic Corea with bassist Hadrien Feraud, Marcus Gilmore on drums, saxes, flute, and bass clarinet from Origin vet Tim Garland, and guitarist Charles Altura.
Chic Corea celebrated his 75th birthday in 2016 by playing with more than 20 different groups during a six-week stand at the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, New York City.
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