In the Beginning
Chelsea and Boston
Born Armando Anthony Corea in Chelsea, Massachusetts on June 12, 1941, Chick began studying piano at age four. Early on in his development, Horace Silver and Bud Powell were important influences while the music of Beethoven and Mozart inspired his compositional instincts.
Chick’s first major professional gig was with Cab Calloway, which came before early stints in Latin bands led by Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo.
Chick's First Gigs
Getting His Start with Some Big Names
Important sideman work with trumpeter Blue Mitchell, flutist Herbie Mann and saxophonist Stan Getz came before Chick made his recording debut as a leader in 1966 with Tones For Joan's Bones. During these years, Chick also recorded sessions with Cal Tjader, Donald Byrd and Dizzy Gillespie.
After accompanying singer Sarah Vaughan in 1967, Chick went into the studio in March of 1968 and recorded Now He Sings, Now He Sobs with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Roy Haynes. That trio album is now considered a jazz classic. This is the disc that cemented Chick's place in the jazz firmament as a pianist of incomparable skill.
Chick Meets Miles Davis
The Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way SessionsIn the fall of 1968, Chick replaced Herbie Hancock in Miles Davis' band with Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams. In September of that year, he played Fender Rhodes electric piano on Miles' important and transitional recording Filles de Kilimanjaro, which pointed to a fresh new direction in jazz.
Between 1968 and 1970, Chick also appeared on such groundbreaking Davis recordings as In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Live-Evil and Live at the Fillmore East. He was also a key player in Davis' electrified ensemble that appeared before 600,000 people on August 29, 1970 at the Isle of Wight Festival in England (captured on Murray Lerner's excellent documentary, Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue).
An Avant-Garde Excursion
Shortly after the historic Isle of Wight concert, both Chick and bassist Dave Holland left Miles' group to form the cooperative avant-garde quartet Circle with drummer Barry Altschul and saxophonist Anthony Braxton. Though short-lived, Circle recorded three adventurous albums, culminating in the arresting live double LP Paris-Concert recorded on February 21, 1971 for the ECM label.
Chick also recorded the trio album ARC with Holland and Altschul, before he changed directions again. His excellent Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1 and 2, recorded over two days in April 1971 for ECM, was the first indication that solo piano performance would become fashionable.