Chick Corea

Pianist, keyboardist and composer (born 1941)

Prolific pianist Chick Corea has been the embodiment of jazz in all its forms - from jazz rock to electric fusion or solo keyboards - since the second half of the 20th century.

Armando Anthony ("Chick") Corea was born in Chelsea, Massachussetts (USA).
He is of Sicilian and Spanish descent.His father started him on the piano at the age of four. Chick began studying classical music at eight and became interested in composition. He debuted in Boston in Phil Barboza's band, where he had his first experience of Latin American music. In 1962, he entered the Juilliard School and began his professional career playing with Blue Mitchell, Cab Calloway  and Latin jazz musicians like Herbie Mann, Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria. In 1967-68, he backed Sarah Vaughan and Stan Getz, and played with Dizzy Gillespie. In 1968, he was engaged by Miles Davis in his fusion period and played electric piano. In 1972, he formed Return to Forever, playing jazz fusion crossed with classical and Brazilian music. The following year it was reworked into a fusion/jazz rock version, with more emphasis on brass and synthesizers, and the band was successful through to the later 1970s.

At the same time, Chick Corea performed and recorded in various formats: solo, duo (with Gary Burton, Herbie Hancock or the singer Bobby McFerrin), trio (with Roy Haynes and Miroslav Vitous) and quartet (with the band Circle). During the 1980s and 1990s, he played and recorded with his Elektric Band and Akoustic Band. In 1986, he presented his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in three movements in the United States and Japan. In 1992, he started his own label, Stretch Records.

In 1996-1997, Chick Corea worked with Origin, a sextet made up of musicians with a background in the new New York scene, such as Kenny Garrettt and Walllace Roney playing modern versions of compositions by Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk.
In the 2000s, he recorded a host of solo piano albums. In 2003, he brought out the album Rendezvous in New York, celebrating a prolific and uninterrupted 40-year career. "Return to Forever" made a triumphant return in 2008, with a world tour in the company of Stanley Clarke and Lenny White.

Chick Corea, a tirelessly creative spirit, imposed a unique style that is at once highly rhythmical and very melodic. He continues to forge ahead, continually reinventing himself in the process. He is also a brilliant synthesizer keyboardist and has composed a number of jazz standards, such as "Spain", "La Fiesta" and "Windows". The artists who have influenced him most are Mozart, Beethoven, Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and especially Bud Powell. Chick Corea is widely recognised for his virtuoso piano playing, percussive touch and original musical compositions.

Key dates in Chick Corea's career:

  • 1941: Born on 12 June in Chelsea, Massachussets
  • 1960: Professional debuts with Blue Mitchell, Cab Calloway, Mongo       Santamaria
  • 1968: Chick Corea replaces Herbie Hancock in Miles Davis's band
  • 1970: Formed the band "Return to Forever"
  • 1985: Formed "Elektric Band"
  • 1989: Formed "Akoustic Band"
  • 1992: Started his own label: "Stretch Records"
  • 1996: Formed the band "Origin"
  • 2000: Premiered his Piano Concerto No. 1
  • 2006: Premiered his Piano Concerto No. 2

Key dates in Chick Corea's discography:

  • 1968 : Now he sings now he sobs  
  • 1971 : Piano Improvisations  
  • 1976 : My Spanish heart  
  • 1981 : Three Quartets  
  • 1987 : Light Years  
  • 2003 : Rendez vous à New York  
  • 2014 : Solo piano : Portraits

Between 1976 and 2012, Chick Corea was nominated 51 times for Grammy Awards and won 18 in various categories!