Chick and Herbie Hancock
Two Live Duet AlbumsShortly after disbanding RTF, Chick and Herbie Hancock teamed up in early 1978 for a tour playing duets exclusively on acoustic pianos. Their chemistry was documented on two separate recordings: 1978’s Corea/Hancock and 1980's An Evening with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, a two-LP set that featured renditions of Chick's "La Fiesta" and Herbie's "Maiden Voyage" along with expressive takes on Béla Bartok's "Mikrokosmos" and the standard that Miles Davis made so popular, "Someday My Prince Will Come."
The Mad Hatter, Friends and Secret Agent
Also in 1978, a year marked by a flurry of activity, Chick released The Mad Hatter, with original RTF saxophonist Joe Farrell, drummer Steve Gadd and former Bill Evans Trio bassist Eddie Gomez, and followed up with the wide-open blowing date Friends, featuring the same stellar crew. Before the year was out Chick also managed to record the provocative Delphi I: Solo Piano Improvisations.
Secret Agent introduced a fresh new rhythm section of drummer Tom Brechtlein (later a member of the Touchstone band) and France's fretless electric bass wonder, Bunny Brunel. Vocalist Gayle Moran and saxophonist Joe Farrell were also featured on this 1979 outing.
New Decade, New Collaborators
Acoustic Jazz in an Electric Era
At the beginning of 1981, Chick recorded Three Quartets, a classic swinging encounter with tenor sax great Michael Brecker, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Steve Gadd.
Later that year he toured in an all-star quartet with saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Roy Haynes. Their near-telepathic post-bop chemistry was documented on the exhilarating Live in Montreux.
That same year, Chick also had a reunion with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Roy Haynes for the double LP Trio Music, released 13 years after their landmark recording, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs. The year 1982 yielded such gems as the Spanish-tinged Touchstone (featuring flamenco guitar great Paco de Lucia and a reunion of Chick's RTF band mates Al Di Meola, Lenny White and Stanley Clarke on the aptly-titled "Compadres"), the adventurous Again and Again (a quintet date featuring the remarkable flutist Steve Kujala), Chick's ambitious Lyric Suite for Sextet (a collaboration with vibraphonist Gary Burton augmented by string quartet) and The Meeting (a duet encounter with renowned classical pianist Friedrich Gulda).
Chick and Chaka Khan on her Jazz Debut
1982 also marked the formation of the Echoes of an Era band (essentially an all-star backing band for R&B singer Chaka Khan's first foray into jazz). With his former RTF band mates Stanley Clarke and producer and drummer on this project, Lenny White, augmented by jazz greats Freddie Hubbard and Joe Henderson, Chick recorded Echoes of an Era with Chaka and followed up with the all-instrumental studio recording Griffith Park Collection and the double-LP, Griffith Park Collection, Vol. 2.
There followed a string of eclectic offerings in 1983's solo piano masterwork, Children's Songs, 1984's Voyage (a duet project with flutist Kujala), 1985's Septet (an ambitious five-movement suite for piano, flute, French horn and string quartet) and 1985's Trio Music, Live In Europe (another ECM outing with Vitous and Haynes).