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Béla Fleck

Chick Corea

Chick Corea & Béla Fleck
@ the Barbican
19 November 2007

Click an image to enlarge.

Chick Corea biography

Born Armando Anthony Corea in Chelsea, Massachusetts on June 12, 1941, Corea began studying piano at age four. Early on in his development, Horace Silver and Bud Powell were important piano influences while access to the music of Beethoven and Mozart inspired his compositional instincts. Corea’s first major professional gig was with Cab Calloway, which came before early stints in Latin bands led by Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo (1962-63). There followed important tenures with trumpeter Blue Mitchell (1964-66), flutist Herbie Mann and saxophonist Stan Getz before Corea made his recording debut as a leader in 1966 with “Tones for Joan’s Bones” (which featured trumpeter Woody Shaw, tenor saxophonist and flutist Joe Farrell, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Joe Chambers).

After accompanying Sarah Vaughan in 1967, Corea went into the studio in March of 1968 and recorded “Now He Sings, Now He Sobs” with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Roy Haynes. That trio album is now considered a jazz classic. In the fall of 1968, Corea replaced Herbie Hancock in Miles Davis’ band. In September of that year, he played Fender Rhodes electric piano on Miles' important and transitional recording “Filles de Kilimanjaro”, which pointed to a fresh new direction in jazz. Between 1968 and 1970, Corea also appeared on such groundbreaking Davis recordings as “In a Silent Way”, “Bitches Brew”, “Live-Evil” and “Live at the Fillmore East”. He is also a key player in Davis’ electrified ensemble that appeared before 600,000 people on August 29, 1970 at the Isle of Wight Festival in England (captured on Murray Lerner's excellent documentary, Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue). Shortly after that historic concert, both Corea and bassist Dave Holland left Miles’ group to form the cooperative avant-garde quartet Circle with drummer Barry Altschul and saxophonist Anthony Braxton. Though its tenure was short-lived, Circle recorded three adventurous albums, culminating in the arresting live double LP “Paris-Concert” (recorded on February 21, 1971 for the ECM label before Corea changed directions again. His excellent “Piano Improvisations”, Vol. 1 and 2, recorded over two days in April 1971 for ECM, was the first indication that solo piano performance would become fashionable.

Toward the end of 1971, Corea formed his first edition of Return To Forever with Stanley Clarke on acoustic bass, Joe Farrell on soprano sax and flute, Airto Moreira on drums and percussion and his wife Flora Purim on vocals.

By early 1973, Return To Forever had taken a different course. Following the addition of electric guitarist Bill Connors and thunderous drummer Lenny White, the group was fully fortified to embrace the emerging fusion movement with a vengeance. A third edition of RTF featured a four-piece brass section along with bassist Clarke, charter RTF member Joe Farrell, drummer Gerry Brown and Chick's future wife Gayle Moran on vocals. Together they recorded 1977's “Music Magic” (Columbia) and the four-LP boxed set R.T.F. “Live” (Columbia), which captured the sheer energy and excitement of the full ensemble on tour.

The year 1982 was again marked by a flurry of creative activity that yielded such gems as the Spanish-tinged Touchstone (featuring flamenco guitar great Paco de Lucia and a reunion of Corea's RTF bandmates Al Di Meola, Lenny White and Stanley Clarke on the aptly-titled "Compadres"), the adventurous Again and Again (a quintet date featuring the remarkable flutist Steve Kujala), Corea's ambitious Lyric Suite for Sextet (a collaboration with vibraphonist Gary Burton augmented by string quartet) and The Meeting (a duet encounter with renowned classical pianist Friedrich Gulda). 1982 also marked the formation of the Echoes of an Era band (essentially an all-star backing band for R&B singer Chaka Khan’s first foray into jazz.

Through the remainder of the ‘80s and into the early ‘90s, Corea returned to the fusion arena with a vengeance with his Elektric Band, featuring drummer Dave Weckl, saxophonist Eric Marienthal, bassist John Pattitucci and guitarist Frank Gambale.

By 1992, Corea had realised a lifelong goal in forming Stretch Records. Among its early releases were projects by Bob Berg, John Patitucci, Eddie Gomez and Robben Ford. In 1997, Corea released a recording with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra with Bobby McFerrin as conductor. Their second collaboration, entitled “The Mozart Sessions” (Sony Classical) followed on the heels of their first duet Grammy Award winning recording, 1991's “Play” (Blue Note). That same incredibly productive year (1977), Corea 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 Corea his ninth GRAMMY® Award.

In 2001, Corea unveiled his New Trio, featuring drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Avishai Cohen, on “Past, Present & Futures”. By the end of that year, Corea was engaged with his ambitious three-week career retrospective at the Blue Note.

In 2004, Corea reunited his high-powered Elektric Band for a tour and subsequent recording based on L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction novel To The Stars. And in 2005, he returned to Hubbard for further musical inspiration, this time interpreting The Ultimate Adventure, an exotic blend of passionate flamenco melodies, North African and Middle Eastern grooves and adventurous improvisation.

Without doubt Chick Corea one of the most prolific composers of the second half of the 20th century. From avant-garde to bebop, from children’s songs to straight ahead, from hard-hitting fusion to heady forays into classical, Corea has touched an astonishing number of musical bases in his illustrious career. He continues to explore and generate new material for a number of different vehicles.

Béla fleck biography

Born and raised in New York City, Fleck began his musical career playing the guitar. In the early 1960’s, while watching the Beverly Hillbillies, the bluegrass sounds of Flatt & Scruggs flowed out of the TV set and into his young brain. Earl Scruggs's banjo style hooked Fleck’s interest immediately.

It wasn't until his grandfather bought him a banjo in September of 1973, that it became his full time passion. That week, Fleck entered New York City’s, High School of Music and Art. He began studies on the French horn but soon switched to the chorus. Since the banjo wasn’t an offered elective at Music & Art, Fleck sought lessons through outside sources. Erik Darling, Marc Horowitz, and Tony Trischka stepped up and filled the job. Fleck joined his first band, ‘Wicker's Creek’ during this period. Living in NYC, Fleck was exposed to a wide variety of musical experiences. One of the most impressive was a concert by “Return to Forever” featuring Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke. This concert encouraged further experimenting with bebop and jazz on the banjo, signs of things to come.

Several months after high school, Fleck moved to Boston to play with Jack Tottle's Tasty Licks. While in Boston Fleck continued his jazz explorations, made two albums with Tasty Licks, and his first solo banjo album “Crossing the Tracks”, on Rounder Records. This is where he first played with future musical partners Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas.

After the break up of Tasty Licks, Fleck spent a summer on the streets of Boston playing with bass player, Mark Schatz. SchatZ and Fleck moved to Lexington, KY to form Spectrum, which included Jimmy Gaudreau, Glen Lawson, and Jimmy Mattingly.

In 1981, Fleck was invited to join the progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival, lead by Sam Bush on mandolin, fiddle and vocals. With the addition of California based Pat Flynn on guitar and NGR veteran John Cowan on bass and vocals, New Grass Revival took bluegrass music to new limits, exciting audiences and critics alike.

During the 9 years Fleck spent with NGR he continued to record a series of solo albums for Rounder, including the ground breaking 1988 album “Drive”. He also collaborated with Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Edgar Meyer and Mark O'Connor in an acoustic super group called Strength in Numbers.

Towards the end of the New Grass years, Fleck and Howard Levy crossed paths at the Winipeg Folk Festival. Next came a phone call from a friend of Fleck’s, wanting to introduce to him, a new bass player who was in town looking for a gig. Victor Lemonte Wooten played some licks on the phone for Fleck and the second connection was made. In 1988 Dick Van Kleek, Artistic Director for the PBS Lonesome Pine Series based in Louisville, Kentucky, offered Fleck a solo show. Fleck put several musical sounds together with his banjo, a string quartet, his Macintosh computer and also a more jazz based combo. Howard and Victor signed on for the concert, but the group still lacked a drummer. The search was on for an unusual drummer/percussionist. Victor offered up his brother Roy Wooten, later to become known as FutureMan. The first rehearsal held at Fleck’s Nashville home was hampered by a strong thunderstorm that knocked the electricity out for hours. The four continued on with an acoustic rehearsal and the last slot on the TV show became the first performance of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. This group would tour and produce successful albums for many years.

Collaborating with Fleck on "Perpetual Motion" was his long time friend and colleague Edgar Meyer, a bassist whose virtuosity defies labels and also an acclaimed composer. In the wake of that album's release, Fleck & Meyer came up with the idea of a banjo/bass duo, which they developed and refined during a concert tour of the US.

The recipients of Multiple Grammy Awards going back to 1998, Béla Fleck & the Flecktones picked up the Best Contemporary Jazz Performance, Instrumental Grammy in 2000 for “Outbound”, a typically wide-ranging project, with guest artists that include guitarist Adrian Belew and singers Jon Anderson and Shawn Colvin, built around Fleck’s concept of “the banjo being weird.” Flecks’ total Grammy count is 8 Grammys won, and 20 nominations. He has been nominated in more different categories than anyone in Grammy history.

Béla Fleck

Chick Corea

Béla Fleck

Bela Fleck

Bela Fleck

Chick Corea

Chick Corea & Béla Fleck

Chick Corea


Recommended
Listening

 

Burton / Corea / Metheny / Haynes / Holland - like minds Chick Corea - Spanish Heart Return To Forever featuring Chick Corea - No Mystery Chick Corea - Now he sings now he sobs
Chick Corea - Piano Improvisations Chick Corea - return to forever Return To Forever - Romantic Warrior return to forever - the hymn of the seventh
Chick Corea - Tap Step The Chick Corea Elektric Band Bobby McFerrin / Chick Corea - The Mozart Sessions Chick Corea - The Ultimate Adventure
Chick Corea / Miroslav Vitous / Roy Haynes - Trio Music Chick Corea - Universal Syncopations return to forever featuring Chick Corea - where have I known you before Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - Outbound

 

Further Recommended
Viewing

Click the images below to view images of John John McLaughlin, Chick Corea and more...

John McLaughlin, Chick Corea & more (click to go to this page)

Go back to the London Jazz Festival 2007 home page.

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