April 2016

Jazz Royalty: Legendary Chick Corea to Perform at the Arts Center April 5

Author: Andrea Gannon

Chick Corea has attained icon status in the world of music. This legendary keyboardist, composer and bandleader is a DownBeat Hall of Famer and NEA Jazz Master, as well as the fourth-most nominated artist in Grammy Awards history with 63 nods and 22 Grammy wins, in addition to a number of Latin Grammys.

On April 5, the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina proudly welcomes the jazz star, along with his preferred instrument, a breathtaking Yamaha CFX nine-foot concert grand piano, to the stage, with one show only at 8 p.m.

Most known for his jazz, Corea’s music ranges from straight-ahead to avant-garde, bebop to jazz-rock fusion, and chamber to symphony, covering an astonishing number of musical bases in his illustrious career, while maintaining a standard of excellence that is awe-inspiring. A tirelessly creative spirit, Chick Corea continues to reinvent himself, while winning over fans throughout the world, every single year.

In fact, Corea has never been more prolific than in the twenty-first century, whether playing acoustic piano or electric keyboards, leading multiple bands, performing solo (as he is at the Arts Center) or collaborating with a who’s who of music. Underscoring this, he has been named “Artist of the Year” three times this decade in the DownBeat readers’ poll. As The New York Times has said, he is “a luminary, ebullient and eternally youthful.”

Corea’s classic albums as a leader or co-leader include Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes), Paris Concert (with Circle: Anthony Braxton, Dave Holland and Barry Altschul) and Return to Forever (with Return to Forever: Joe Farrell, Stanley Clarke, Airto Moreira and Flora Purim), as well as Crystal Silence (with Gary Burton), My Spanish Heart, Remembering Bud Powell, and Further Explorations (with Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian).

A venturesome collaborator, Corea has teamed with artists from jazz legend Lionel Hampton to new-generation pianist Stefano Bollani, from banjoist Béla Fleck to vocal superstar Bobby McFerrin. His duo partnerships with Gary Burton and Herbie Hancock have endured decades.

In the 1980s and ’90s, Corea continued to venture into new territory, displaying his broad musical reach with his Elektric Band (which reunited in 2004) and Akoustic Band, as well as the exciting sextet Origin, whose Change album was called “a sparkling display for his lively post-bop playing” by Entertainment Weekly.

Corea’s 2014 release ranks as a new classic in his discography: Trilogy, a live triple-disc set with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. Winner of two Grammys, the album documents this trio interpreting classic Corea compositions (such as “Spain”), plus previously unreleased pieces by the pianist (“Piano Sonata: The Moon”), an array of jazz standards and even a Prelude by Alexander Scriabin. Reviewing a stop on one of the trio’s globe-trekking tours, All About Jazz noted: “This one certainly ranks among his most memorable trios… [Corea] has never been more active—and with albums as superb as Trilogy…clearly at the top of his game.”

Rare for a “jazz musician,” Chick received the Richard J. Bogomolny Award from Chamber Music America in 2010, and he broke new ground as a composer with The Continents: Concerto for Jazz Quintet and Chamber Orchestra, released in 2013 by a storied classical label, Deutsche Grammophon. Corea recorded his first album of solo piano in 1971, and he continued his intimate journey with the instrument on Solo Piano: Portraits.

For a sold-out international tour and live album in 2008, Corea reconvened his pioneering jazz-rock fusion band Return to Forever, which he founded in 1972. The core of the band—Corea with original member Stanley Clarke and veteran Lenny White—produced a Grammy-winning acoustic album in 2011 with Forever. Then a new version of Return to Forever toured the world to acclaim, yielding the live CD/DVD The Mothership Returns.

In another celebration of kindred spirits, Corea co-led the Five Peace Band with guitarist John McLaughlin, a fellow Miles Davis alum. The group won a Grammy for Five Peace Band Live, and the New Zealand Herald praised the quintet live as “jazz without compromise, invention without fear.” In 2011, Corea celebrated his seventieth birthday at NYC’s Blue Note in a big way, with a month-long run that encompassed more than 40 performances with 10 different lineups.

For the 2013 album The Vigil (Concord), Corea put together a new-era electro/acoustic quintet, featuring himself on keyboards and longtime associate Tim Garland on reeds, alongside some hot young players.

Just last year, Corea was as active as he’s ever been. A major highlight of the year was his hugely acclaimed world tour with fellow piano legend Herbie Hancock, reuniting for their first full-scale tour as a duo since 1978. That first duet outing—just the pair of world-class musicians playing acoustic pianos—resulted in a pair of massively popular albums still viewed as benchmarks today. Corea and Hancock filled some of the greatest venues on the planet.

The rare and intimate solo piano concert, Tuesday, April 5 at the Arts Center, promises to be a pure distillation of one of the most remarkable careers in jazz: moving and profound, in the pure Chick Corea spirit of play.

Tickets, $90 each, can be purchased at the Arts Center Box Office by calling (843) 842-ARTS (2787) or online artshhi.com. 

The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina is located at 14 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island, SC adjacent to the entrance to Shelter Cove Harbour.

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