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Jazz - Released January 1, 1973 | GRP

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Always tied to a confusing time line, the first released recording from the original configuration of Return to Forever was actually their second session. An initial studio date from the ECM label done in February of 1972 wasn't issued until after the band had changed in 1975. The Polydor/Verve recording from October of 1972 is indeed this 1973 release, featuring the same band with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Airto Moreira, Joe Farrell, and Flora Purim. There's no need splitting hairs, as both are five-star albums, showcasing many of the keyboardist's long enduring, immediately recognizable, and highly melodic compositions. Farrell's happy flute, Purim's in-the-clouds wordless vocals, the electrifying percussion of Airto, and Clarke's deft and loping electric bass guitar lines are all wrapped in a stew of Brazilian samba and Corea's Fender Rhodes electric piano, certainly setting a tone and the highest bar for the music of peer groups to follow. "Captain Marvel" -- the seed for the band sans Farrell and Purim that was expanded into a full concept album with Stan Getz -- is here as a steamy fusion samba with Corea dancing on the keys. By now the beautiful "500 Miles High" has become Purim's signature song with Neville Potter's lyrics and Corea's stabbing chords, and unfortunately became a hippie drug anthem. Perhaps Corea's definitive song of all time, and covered ad infinitum by professional and school bands, "Spain" retains the quirky melody, handclapped interlude, up-and-down dynamics, exciting jam section, and variation in time, tempo, and colorations that always command interest despite a running time of near ten minutes. "You're Everything" is a romantic classic that surely has been heard at many weddings, with another lyric by Potter sung in heaven by Purim, while the title track is Purim's lyric in a looser musical framework with Clarke's chart coalescing with Corea and Farrell's pungent flute work. As much as the others have become icons, the extraordinary sound of Farrell on this date should never be trivialized or underestimated. The final track, "Children's Song," was a springboard for several of Corea's full-length album projects, and is heard here for the first time via a trio setting in a slow, birthlike motif. The expanded version of this recording includes many alternate takes of four of these selections, but also includes "Matrix," which was not on any RTF albums, and there are four versions of "What Game Shall We Play Today?," which was only available on the ECM release. From a historical perspective, this is the most important effort of Corea's career, quite different than his prior previous progressive or improvising efforts, and the pivotal beginning of his career as the most popular contemporary jazz keyboardist in history. ~ Michael G. Nastos
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2012 | Concord Jazz

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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released January 11, 1988 | ECM

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Jazz - Released November 4, 2008 | ECM

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Jazz - Released December 24, 2001 | ECM

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Blue Note Records

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Recorded over a year after Chick Corea's debut Tones for Joan's Bones -- a record cut in late 1966 but not appearing until 1968 -- Now He Sings, Now He Sobs feels like his true first album, the place where he put all the pieces in motion for his long, adventurous career. Much of that has to do with the closed quarters of its recording. Supported by drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Miroslav Vitous, Corea has the freedom to run wild on his five original compositions, letting chords cluster alongside fleet melodic runs. Haynes and Vitous play with the same sense of liberation, which pushes Now He Sings, Now He Sobs into a sweet spot where hard bop and avant intersect. There's an intellectual rigor balanced by an instinctual hunger that makes for music that's lively and challenging while also containing a patina of comfort. Chalk the latter up to the elegance of Corea's piano trio: they move through the dense bop with the same grace that they settle into ballads, a sound that is warm and inviting, yet never disguises how the trio -- and Corea especially -- never stop probing and exploring the outer edges of this music. While it's possible to hear Now He Sings, Now He Sobs as an opening salvo to Corea's career, it also exists as its own special thing because it captures the pianist at the brink: it's kinetic, exciting, and filled with endless possibilities. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Jazz - Released March 26, 2010 | ECM

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Jazz - Released August 1, 1971 | ECM

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1978 | Verve

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Although this set contains eight lesser-known Chick Corea compositions, it is in reality a fine blowing date. Corea, on both acoustic and electric pianos, is joined by his old friend Joe Farrell on reeds, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Steve Gadd for some fine straightahead jazz. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | GRP

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Concord Records

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Part two of Corea's solo piano series features standard tunes. There is a preponderance of Thelonious Monk music: "Monk's Dream," "Blue Monk," "Ask Me Now," and "'Round Midnight." Bud Powell, another piano legend whose music Corea has recorded and studied closely over the years, is represented by "Dusk in Sandi" and "Oblivion." The more universally familiar selections are "But Beautiful," "Thinking of You," "Yesterdays," "It Could Happen to You," "So in Love," "How Deep Is the Ocean," and "Brazil." Corea knows this music intimately and is uniquely able to mine each selection for fresh insights and possibilities. There are few pianists alive who equal Corea in stature and influence, and this beautiful concert recording reminds us of his continuing importance as an interpreter of jazz tradition. ~ David R. Adler
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | Stretch Records

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This encounter between Chick Corea (sticking to acoustic piano), tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker, bassist Eddie Gomez, and drummer Steve Gadd lives up to expectations. The program features three lengthy "Quartet" pieces, including sections dedicated to Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. This blowing date is highly recommended for true jazz fans. ~ Scott Yanow
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Jazz - Released November 14, 2000 | ECM

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1992 | Stretch Records

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Chick Corea was involved in a wide variety of projects during the early 1980s, some acoustic, others electric, and everything from solos and duets to orchestral projects. Touchstone really displays quite a bit of diversity with features for flamenco guitarist Paco DeLucia, a one-song ("Compadres") reunion of Return to Forever (with guitarist Al DiMeola, bassist Stanley Clarke, and drummer Lenny White), a spot for alto-great Lee Konitz ("Duende"), and a conventional sextet outing on "Dance of Chance." A bit uneven but with its interesting moments, Touchstone is worth checking out. ~ Scott Yanow
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Pop - Released January 1, 1993 | Stretch Records

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This interesting collection finds Chick Corea playing seven then-new originals with a variety of musicians including flutist Hubert Laws, tenor saxophonist Joe Farrell, trumpeter Al Vizzutti, bassist Stanley Clarke and, on "Flamenco," tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. The music is pleasing and spirited if not all that memorable; an average release from a hugely talented jazzman. ~ Scott Yanow
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Latin Jazz - Released June 28, 2019 | Concord Jazz

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Chick Corea has always been an ambassador of jazz across the world, from the U.S.A to Brazil, as well as Europe - especially Spain. The latter’s musical heritage is the focus of celebration with the Spanish Heart Band. Throughout Antidote, the pianist weaves his way through latin jazz territory, backed by a five-star cast of Spanish, Cuban, Venezuelan and American musicians, covering songs from his own albums My Spanish Heart (1976) and Touchstone (1982). Corea also adds a few new tracks, and covers Jobim, Paco de Lucia as well as Stravinsky. Within this octet, he brought together the flamenco guitarist Niño Josele, flutist and saxophonist Jorge Pardo (two bandmates of the late Paco de Lucia), the bass player Carlitos Del Puerto, percussionist Luisito Quintero, the trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, trombonist Steve Davis and the drummer Marcus Gilmore. His motley, diverse jazz is a natural bridge between flamenco and bossa nova, rumba and soul, salsa and classical music. A rainbow which reminds us how original this musical approach is, that it’s kept jazz from biting its own tail for half a century. © Clotilde Maréchal/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released October 4, 2019 | Concord Jazz

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2013's Trilogy showcased the engaging collaboration between pianist Chick Corea, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. Virtuoso leaders in their own right, Corea, McBride, and Blade found common ground as a trio, exploring a mix of sophisticated standards as well as originals culled from Corea's extensive book. The album cracked the Top Ten of the Billboard Jazz Albums chart and earned two Grammys, including for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. The super-trio's follow-up, 2018's Trilogy 2, features further in-concert performances captured during their various tours between 2010 and 2016 in places like Ottawa, Bologna, Zurich, and St. Louis. Once again, the performances reveal yet more layers to their intuitive, almost psychic interplay. Part of what makes Corea, McBride, and Blade's work together so compelling is how rhythmically kinetic it is. McBride and Blade are both immensely rhythmic, muscular performers who punctuate every phrase and accent with deft articulation. They are a perfect match for Corea, who balances his deeply layered chordal harmonies with ear-popping rhythmic motifs and architectural lines that dance and spin right along with his bandmates. It's a tactile sound that elevates standards like their opening take on "How Deep Is the Ocean" and their swaggeringly loping rendition of Thelonious Monk's "Crepuscule with Nellie." Elsewhere, they offer similarly bewitching versions of Corea's 1968 classic "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" and an expansive rendition of his 1973 Return to Forever Latin fusion number "500 Miles High." We also get a propulsive reading of Steve Swallow's "Eiderdown," an equally brisk take on Miles Davis' "All Blues," and a vibrant closing interpretation of Billy Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom." ~ Matt Collar
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Jazz Fusion & Jazz Rock - Released January 19, 2018 | Stretch Records

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Jazz - Released November 1, 2019 | Concord Jazz

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1976 | Polydor

This 1976 release features Chick Corea in what was then, and remains, a unique musical setting. While it is truly an electric jazz fusion record, it is also Corea's first solo recording to attempt to address the Latin side of his musical heritage. My Spanish Heart marks a full-scale, yet thoroughly modern, exploration in the musical lineage Corea sprang from. Making full use of synthesizer technology, a string section, and synth-linked choruses -- of two voices, his own and that of Gayle Moran -- as well as percussionist Don Alias, drummer Steve Gadd, a full brass section, and the sparse use of Jean Luc Ponty ("Armando's Rumba") and bassist Stanley Clark, Corea largely succeeded in creating a Spanish/Latin tapestry of sounds, textures, impressions, and even two suites -- "Spanish Fantasy" and "El Bozo." The string quartet performs its intricate and gorgeously elegant arrangements with verve and grace on "Day Danse" and on the suites, with Corea's contrapuntal pianism creating a sharp yet warm contrast to the shifting tempos, wild interval leaps, and shimmering timbral balances that occur. The only pieces that sound dated on this double-album-length set are the fusion pieces, which are, with their production and knotty stop-and-start modulations and key signature equations -- complete with aggressive arpeggios and scalar linguistics -- destined to be limited in expression by the voice of their use of technology. Thus, "Love Castles," "The Gardens," and "Night Streets" suffer from their rather cheesy production despite their tastefully done double fusion semantics (jazz to rock to Latin music). There is no doubt that Corea's musicianship was up to any task he chose at this point in time. Simply put, he was compositionally and intellectually at the top of his game, and this record, despite the many of his that haven't aged well, still surprises despite its production shortcomings. ~ Thom Jurek

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Chick Corea in the magazine
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