Chick Corea life and biography

Chick Corea picture, image, poster

Chick Corea biography

Date of birth : 1941-06-12
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2011-11-05
Credited as : jazz pianist, composer, jazz-rock fusion

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Chick Corea, a native from Chelsea, Mass. became one of the most talented American jazz pianist, keyboardist, and composer. His is considered to be part in the birth of the electric jazz fusion movement in the 1960's. Many of his compositions are considered jazz standards.

Anthony Armando Corea was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts to Armando and Anna (Zaccone) Corea. He received his nickname Chick from one of his aunts, who called him "Cheeky" whenever she pinched his cheek. His father, a second-generation Italian, played trumpet and bass in the society and Dixieland bands he led around Boston. "He wrote out arrangements of popular songs for me," Corea recalled to Len Lyons in High Fidelity . "He always kept them to my level, so the language of music became familiar to me." Corea was taught piano at home as a four-year-old, and drums later as an eight-year-old. His only formal lessons were in classical piano with local instructor Salvatore Sullo. The adolescent Corea played piano at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and area functions before his graduation from Chelsea High School in 1959. Moving to New York City the same year, Corea entered Columbia University, but dropped out after one month. The next ten months he practiced piano eight hours a day to audition at the Juilliard School of Music. Accepted at Juilliard as a piano major, he remained two months. Corea left when he realized a conventional education was not for him.

During the sixties Corea joined the ensemble Mongo Santamaria and the Willie Bobo combo. He worked as a sideman for Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann, and Stan Getz. Subsequently, his debut albums, including Tones for Miss Bones (1966) and The Song of Singing, appeared. In 1968 he was an accompanist for Sarah Vaughan when keyboardist Herbie Hancock called him. Hancock was on his honeymoon and needed Corea to replace him for a Baltimore date with jazz's hottest star, Miles Davis. When he joined his childhood idol's band replacing Hancock in 1969, Corea got acquainted with the electric piano through Davis. Chick put the instrument to use during his two years with Davis making albums, including Bitches Brew, which became the paradigm album of jazz-rock fusion.

In 1970 Corea converted to the Church of Scientology, whose founder, the late L. Ron Hubbard, practiced a method of unblocking the mind he called "dianetics." Though Corea did not consider himself religious, he followed Scientology's approach to pare off the mind's emotional baggage and discovered artistic impetus. Later the same year he formed the group Circle with Davis's former bassist Dave Holland, drummer Barry Altschul, and reed player Anthony Braxton. Together they recorded the albums Circling In and Circulus, among others, but audiences did not find the group accessible.

The winner of nine best keyboardist polls from 1973 to 1979, Corea has since solved his communication problems. His popularity soared as a solo artist with three volumes of Piano Improvisations in the seventies. He began his on-going duos with vibraharpist Gary Burton at the same time, recording Crystal Silence and Duet . From 1972 until 1976, Corea let loose the decibels with his energized fusion band Return to Forever. The group, whose most memorable members were drummer Lenny White and guitarists Bill Connors and Al DiMeola, recorded eight albums, including 1975 Grammy Award winner No Mystery. Composing and arranging his own suites, Corea received two more Grammy Awards the next year with the solo album The Leprechaun. In 1977 the Latin-element album My Spanish Heart sold 170,000 copies, an unprecedented number for a jazz recording. The following year People reported the critical concordance that "together the two friends have created what many jazz critics consider the tour of the decade" when Corea and Herbie Hancock improvised Bela Bartok, George Gershwin, and Miles Davis in duets on acoustic grand pianos. The album Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea in Concert 1978 proved that fusion master Corea was just as comfortable concertizing. Corea met his second wife, vocalist and composer Gayle Moran, in the seventies, when she began her musical collaboration with him on several of his albums, and she was featured prominently as part of Corea's group Return to Forever.

From the eighties to the present, Corea has been just as successful. In 1982 he won an additional Grammy Award for further work with Gary Burton on Chick Corea and Gary Burton in Concert. Continuing his solo work, he also collaborated with various musicians from jazz, crossover, and classical fields, including Michael Brecker, Freddie Hubbard, Keith Jarrett, Eddie Gomez, Miroslav Vitous, violinist Ida Kavafian, and cellist Fred Sherry. In 1986 he emulated Mozart at a performance of his own concerto with the Philharmonia Virtuosi in New York. While forming his Elektric Band in 1985, Corea began to fuse an acoustic piano with an electric keyboard. Finding the balance of instruments that had eluded him previously, Corea produced the album many critics viewed as the best jazz-rock record of 1988 with Eye of the Beholder.

In 1990 Chick Corea and his Elektric Band--bassist John Patitucci, drummer Dave Weckl, guitarist Frank Gambale, and saxophonist Eric Marienthal--put together "more of a musician's album" with Inside Out wrote Ricardo Silveira in Playboy . Though some critics dubbed him "Mr. Scientology" and have not always been receptive, the consensus opinion was stated by Silveira: "Just remember that there's an intellectual bent to Chick's music making--he does that sort of thing as well as it can be done."
Corea lives in Hollywood Hills with Gayle Moran. His first wife remained in Boston to raise his two (now adult) children, Thaddeus and Liana. A workaholic who tours in a bus that once belonged to country star Merle Haggard, Chick Corea wants to compose more orchestral and chamber pieces in the future. Rendering a fitting homage to the jazz leader, Woodward wrote, "Corea's mission of mind-expansion barrels forward, with signposts in the subconscious, the fingers, and the airwaves."

In 2008 the second version of Return to Forever (Corea, keyboards; Stanley Clarke, bass; Lenny White, drums; Al Di Meola, guitar) reunited for a worldwide tour. The reunion received positive reviews from most 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 is recently working on a collaboration CD with the Grammy Award winning jazz vocal group The Manhattan Transfer, released in August 2009.

Chick's famous works:

Tones for Miss Bones, 1966.
The Song of Singing.
Chick Corea, Blue Note.
Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1 & 2, ECM, 1971.
No Mystery, 1975.
The Leprechaun, Polydor, 1976.
My Spanish Heart, Polydor, 1977.
The Mad Hatter, Polydor, 1979.
Three Quartets, Warner Brothers, 1980.
Elektric Band, GRP, 1986.
Light Years, GRP.
Eye of the Beholder, GRP, 1988.
Beneath the Mask, GRP, 1991.
Akoustic Band, GRP.
Inside Out.
Thunder from Down Under.
With Gary Burton Crystal Silence, ECM, 1972.
Duet , ECM.
Corea/Burton , 1982.
With Herbie Hancock Corea/Hancock , Polydor.
An Evening With..., Columbia, 1978.
With Return to Forever Return to Forever, ECM, 1973.
Light As A Feather, Polydor, 1973.
Musicmagic , Columbia.
With Circle Circling In, Blue Note, 1968.
Circulus , Blue Note, 1970.
Paris Concert, ECM.
With Miles Davis Bitches Brew, Columbia, 1970.

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