Last night I attended Chick Corea’s concert at Rose Hall at Time Warner Center in New York. Chick played with The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis.
I hadn’t seen Chick in concert since the late ’70’s when he was leading his seminal jazz fusion group, Return to Forever and I enjoyed last night’s show more than anything I’ve seen in a long time.
In addition to Chick and the JALCO, special guests included Chick’s wife, Gayle Moran Corea, on vocals for a song, and Riza Printup on harp for another piece.
(L-R), Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea, Gayle Moran Corea
The performance last night consisted totally of works composed by Corea and ranged over a wide expanse of his long career. From early compositions, such as “Tones For Joan’s Bones“, from his 1967 debut album and “Windows” from the 1968 release “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs” to the recently composed work for big band “From Forever (Suite for Big Band Dedicated to Herb Pomeroy)”.
Although I’m partial to small group, trios and quartet, type jazz arrangements, all of Chick’s works make the transition to big band format flawlessly. This is in part to their compositional strength but also to the endless talent that resides in the JALCO. The arrangements were all done by members of the group, including Wynton, and, as expected, they left the audience breathless.
Born in Chelsea, MA in 1941, Armando Corea started playing piano at the age of 4. His father, a Dixieland band trumpeter in the Boston area, was supportive of his musical strivings. Chick attended Columbia University and the Julliard School but left soon after. Although bored by school, he loved the jazz vibe that existed in NYC and decided to stay and play. Early gigs with Cab Calloway and Blue Mitchell started his career and when he landed in Miles Davis‘ band in 1968 (replacing Herbie Hancock) he was there for the birth of electric jazz fusion. Corea went on to found Return To Forever (which included guitar-phenom, Al DiMeola) and they turned jazz fusion inside out.
Chick is still at the top of his game and it was a thrill to watch a master at work. His effortless melodic lines and rhythms that both drive and play against the orchestra’s solo runs are nothing short of incredible. His approach to music is inspiring and I’d recommend catching him live the next time he’s near you.
- “Tones For Joan’s Bones” – from the CC album of the same name (1967)
- “In A Silent Way” – Miles Davis Band (1969)
- “Windows” – from the CC album “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (1968)
- “Spain” – Return to Forever (1972)
- “Got A Match” – with the Chick Corea Elektrik Band – North Sea Jazz Festival (2003)
- Clip from Corea with Marsalis and JALCO (2011)