Chick Corea

As one of the principal architects of jazz fusion, Chick Corea’s keyboard work established the instrument’s role in the new genre. Born in Massachusetts in 1941, Corea was raised surrounded by jazz records and the trumpet playing of his father. He learned piano and drums by age eight, played jazz gigs through high school, and studied music at Columbia and the Juilliard School before dropping out. He stayed in New York City, where he played with the city’s jazz musicians and, in 1966, released his debut album, Tones for Joan’s Bones. In 1968, Corea replaced Herbie Hancock in Miles Davis’s band and went on to record a series of early jazz-fusion albums, including Bitches Brew, through 1970. That year, he formed Circle with Dave Holland but left the group the following year to pursue a solo career. His 1972 album with the band Return to Forever debuted Corea’s turn away from pure avant-garde toward a sound influenced by fusion and Latin American music. Through 1977, Return to Forever recorded six more albums before disbanding. Corea’s work in the 1980s and 1990s saw him perform duets with a number of musicians from different genres and explore traditional classical music. He released ten albums with various forms of the Chick Corea Elektric Band between 1986 and 1994 through GRP Records. He continued forming new bands and releasing original material through the 2010s. A Scientologist, Corea was kept off a state-sponsored concert bill in Germany, a move that led to outrage by the American government. Throughout his career, Chick Corea provided constant innovation to jazz, won over twenty Grammy Awards, and performed with some of the most important members of the late twentieth century’s musical culture.