Chick Explores Classical Music
First Piano Concerto Bridges Gap Between Jazz and Classical
Chick ushered in the new millennium with 2000's Corea Concerto, a grand encounter with the London Philharmonic Orchestra that featured a new symphonic arrangement of “Spain” as well as the premiere of his “Piano Concerto No. 1.”
In 2001, Chick unveiled his New Trio, featuring drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Avishai Cohen, on Past, Present & Futures.
New Elektric Music
To the Stars and The Ultimate Adventure
In 2004, Chick reunited his high-powered Elektric Band for a tour and subsequent recording based on L. Ron Hubbard’s sci-fi novel To the Stars.
And in 2005, he returned to Hubbard for musical inspiration, this time interpreting The Ultimate Adventure. Chick’s acoustic/electric tone poem earned two Grammys—remarkably his 13th and 14th. Chick’s latest score was inspired by Hubbard’s fantasy novel set against a backdrop of scenes and characters from the ancient tales, The Arabian Nights.
A Piano Concerto for Mozart's Birthday
A Legendary Jazz Composer Gets a Prestigious Classical Commission
In 2006, there was no time for Chick to rest on his well-deserved laurels. In July in Vienna, he premiered his “Piano Concerto #2,” commissioned by Wiener Mozartjahr 2006, in celebration of Mozart's 250th birthday anniversary. He performed the piece with the Bavarian Chamber Orchestra and toured throughout Europe with the group.
In addition, Chick delivered Super Trio, featuring drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Christian McBride. The live set, comprising many of Chick’s compositional gems, was released only in Japan through Universal and is available as an import and through Chick’s website. It was named the "Jazz Album of the Year" by Japan's Swing Journal, thereby winning the publication’s coveted Gold Disc Award.
With Béla Fleck on Banjo
In December 2006, Chick recorded The Enchantment, a remarkable duo outing with genre-defying banjoist extraordinaire Béla Fleck.
The two had admired each other's music for several years. Chick had previously recorded three songs on Béla’s 1994 CD, Tales From the Acoustic Planet, as well as on the group’s 1996 live CD, Live Art.
Chick, in turn, had enlisted Fleck to perform with him and Bobby McFerrin on the 2002 Rendezvous in New York project.
Fleck said that The Enchantment was “one of my greatest experiences as a musician … playing with my hero, Chick Corea.” Chick returned the compliment by saying that the album broke new ground for him, with Fleck inspiring him to delve into “unfamiliar territory.”
I love those kinds of challenges, and we had a blast on The Enchantment, which has a totally new kind of sound.Chick
Chick and Gary Burton
Longtime Partners Re-imagine Their First Masterpiece
Also in 2007, the indefatigable artist stretched his creative reach further with The New Crystal Silence, the dazzling duo partnership with Gary Burton that celebrated the 35th anniversary of their first collaboration, documented on the 1972 ECM disc, Crystal Silence. That debut album not only forged their chemistry, but also brought to renown the deep and insightful collaboration of the two virtuosic improvisers. (The duo recorded four more albums and never skipped a year performing together.)
Released on Concord Records, The New Crystal Silence was a double CD featuring the pair performing their classic repertoire in an orchestral with the Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House and as a duet captured in a sublime performance at the Molde Jazz Festival in Molde, Norway.
For the duo disc, Chick and Gary marked their long relationship onstage of anticipating each other’s musical ideas by embarking on a worldwide tour and then chose one of their best performances to document.
We both feel that our music has evolved in the last 10 years more than it did before. We play the tunes very differently, with fresh concepts and new inspiration.Gary Burton
The way we were approaching the music during our 35th anniversary concert tour was so different that I thought it warranted documentation.Chick
All-New Box Set and An Intimate Two-Piano Adventure
2008 saw the release of the Five Trios box set, a six-CD set of five different trios Chick recorded with, dating back to 2005. Also, there were new studio recordings. The box set was released in Japan only by Universal.
The trio discs featured Chick leading the following bass/drum bands: John Patitucci and Antonio Sanchez (for the disc named "Dr. Joe”); Eddie Gomez and Airto Moreira (for “The Boston Three Party,” recorded at Boston's Berklee Performance Center on April 28, 2006); Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette (for “From Miles,” recorded live in New York, 2006); and Christian McBride and Jeff Ballard (“Chillin’ in Chelan,” recorded live in Chelan, Washington in 2005). The new studio recordings, "Brooklyn, Paris to Clearwater," featured French bassist Hadrien Feraud and drummer Richie Barshay.
Duet with Hiromi
The banner year of 2008 also saw the release of the two-CD Duet: Chick & Hiromi. The album featured Chick’s collaboration with Japanese jazz pianist Hiromi, recorded live at the Tokyo Blue Note.
Their repetoire of originals and standards showcased tremendous rhythmic and melodic interplay, on tunes by Thelonious Monk (a bouncing "Bolivar Blues") and Lennon & McCartney (a riveting new take on "The Fool on the Hill"). The album became the No. 1-selling jazz CD of the year in Japan. As a result, the two performed a duet at the Budokan that attracted a sold-out audience of 5,500 people.
This collaboration with Hiromi is very special because she is such a shining product of the growing jazz culture in Japan.Chick
Return to Forever World Tour 2008
The Classic Quartet Takes the World Stage, Produces New Live Album
The biggest Chick news of 2008 was the reuniting of the classic Return to Forever lineup of guitarist Al Di Meola, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White. It marked the first time they played together as a group in 25 years. Before embarking on its eagerly anticipated world tour, Concord Records released the two-CD set, Return to Forever: The Anthology, which gathered together for the first time the best of RTF’s classic albums, completely remixed and remastered.
Return to Forever graced the cover of DownBeat magazine and garnered the feature story, “Let Them Hear Fusion.” In the article, on the eve of the premiere reunion concert in Austin, Texas, on May 29, Chick said, “I can’t wait to see what happens. So many people—and that includes the members of the band—have waited so long for this. Playing the music again with the guys in rehearsals has been so much fun, but doing this for our fans is almost too good to be true.”
The RTF tour circled the globe before concluding in August. The resulting double live album, Return to Forever: Returns, captured every bit of the band's powerful, unique brand of virtuosity.
The Five Peace Band
Electro-Acoustic Alchemy with Fellow Miles Davis Alum John McLaughlin
Another monumental 2008 event was the Five Peace Band, founded with the great jazz guitarist John McLaughlin. The two are truly kindred spirits, given their individual musical histories as well as their singular virtuosity on their respective instruments. As young jazz artists, they both did stints with the legendary Miles Davis and appeared together on the groundbreaking jazz/rock/funk classic Bitches Brew. They then ventured out to form their own revolutionary bands: Chick’s RTF and John’s Mahavishnu Orchestra.
Collaborating together for the first time, Chick and John took a new musical leap, presenting highly creative music with Kenny Garrett on saxophone, Christian McBride on bass and Vinnie Colaiuta and Brian Blade on drums. On the resulting double-album Five Peace Band Live, the band offers intricate acoustic jazz, burning jazz/rock/funk, and intimate duets.
John's "Raju" and "New Blues, Old Bruise" are blues for the 21st century, and Chick's dynamic 28-minute suite "Hymn to Andromeda" is one of his most elaborate compositions to date. The album earned Chick his 16th Grammy® Award, taking home the honor for Best Jazz Instrumetal Album of 2009.
Corea, Clarke & White
Reinventing the Jazz Trio
Inspired by working with Stanley Clarke (bass) and Lenny White (drums) on the RTF tour, Chick enlisted them to form a trio for a worldwide tour in 2009. Actually, the trio is another reunion, harking back to a weeklong stint in 1973 at the heralded San Francisco jazz venue Keystone Korner, where the three developed the electric-jazz ideas that led to the development of RTF. The resulting 2-CD live album, Forever, earned two Grammy awards.
Now that we're playing together, there's a flood of creativity and inspiration that could only come from making music with this group.Chick
Return to Forever IV
Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Gambale Complete New Lineup
The fourth iteration of Return to Forever emerged as a powerhouse quintet in 2012, featuring longtime RTF compatriots Chick, Stanley and Lenny welcoming Jean-Luc Ponty on violin and Frank Gambale on guitar for a massive world tour, exploring both the classic RTF canon and selections from the lineup's solo careers (Stanley's "School Days" and Jean-Luc's "Renaissance" were highlights).
The three-disc set The Mothership Returns catches the band live, in all its electric-acoustic glory, tearing through the setlist including "Señor Mouse," "Romantic Warrior," and "Spain."
Concerto for Jazz Quintet and Chamber Orchestra Fulfills Lifelong Ambition
Chick's originally composed his concerto The Continents in 2009, but waited until 2012 to record it the way it was meant to be: with a hand-chosen chamber orchestra, and a pristine recording space. The resulting 2-CD set is Chick's most ambitious compositional outing to date, perfectly fusing his jazz and classical sensibilities on a gorgeous suite of music.