The Chick Corea Elektric Band
Electric Jazz is Re-Invented
Through the remainder of the '80s and into the '90s, Corea returned to the fusion arena with a vengeance with his Elektric Band, featuring drummer Dave Weckl, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, bassist John Patitucci and guitarist Frank Gambale. Together they recorded five hard-hitting offerings that elevated fusion to a whole new level, including 1986's Elektric Band, 1987's Light Years, 1988's excellent Eye of the Beholder, 1990's Inside Out and 1991's Beneath the Mask.
To balance his forays into electric music, Chick also formed his Akoustic Band, a highly interactive trio with Elektric Band members Patitucci on upright bass and Weckl on drums. They recorded 1989's Akoustic Band and 1990's Alive, both on GRP. The second edition of Chick's Elektric Band, featuring bassist Jimmy Earl, guitarist Mike Miller, drummer Gary Novak and original EB member Eric Marienthal on saxophone, released 1993's Paint the World on GRP. That same year, Chick also recorded a set of solo piano jazz standards, Expressions, which he dedicated to jazz piano legend Art Tatum.
A Label That Pushes the EnvelopeBy 1992, Chick realized a lifelong goal in forming Stretch Records, a label committed to stretching boundaries and focusing more on freshness and creativity than on genre. Among its early releases were projects by Bob Berg, John Patitucci, Eddie Gomez and Robben Ford. After Chick’s ten-year relationship with GRP ended in 1996, following the release of Time Warp, Stretch Records began a partnership with Concord Records and Chick began releasing his new music on his own label.
Bud Powell and Mozart In a New Light
Chick’s first release for his new label was 1997’s Remembering Bud Powell, an all-star outing that featured young talent like tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman, trumpeter Wallace Roney, alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett and bassist Christian McBride, along with jazz drumming legend Roy Haynes (who had performed on the bandstand beside Powell in the early '50s).
Also in 1997, Chick released a recording with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra with Bobby McFerrin as conductor. Their second collaboration, entitled The Mozart Sessions, followed on the heels of their first duet, 1991’s Play. That same incredibly productive year, Chick unveiled his acoustic sextet Origin (the band’s self-titled debut release was a live recording at the Blue Note club in New York) and also teamed up with old partner Gary Burton, rekindling their chemistry from the ‘70s on Native Sense: The New Duets, which earned Chick his ninth Grammy® Award.
In 1998, Chick released the six-disc set A Week at the Blue Note, documenting the Origin sextet in full stride in all its spontaneously combustible glory over the course of three nights. He followed that up in 1999 with Origin’s third outing, Change, which was recorded within the relaxed confines of the home Chick shares with his wife and singer Gayle Moran. Also in 1999, Chick recorded two solo piano gems, Solo Piano: Originals and Solo Piano: Standards.