Chick Corea

Chick Corea (June 12, 1941 – Feb. 9, 2021) was an American jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader with a six-decade career that spanned the early 1960s to the late 2010s. He emerged as a backing player for Mongo Santamaria, Sonny Stitt, Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws, and Cal Tjader.

As a solo artist, Corea debuted with the 1968 release Tones for Joan’s Bones on Atlantic-subsidiary Vortex, followed by a series of improvisational titles on ECM. Starting in 1972, he led Return to Forever through a sequence of samba-jazz and jazz-rock lineups, producing the popular titles Light As a Feather (1972), Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (1973), and Romantic Warrior (1976). Concurrently, he explored Latin-jazz on his 1976 double-album My Spanish Heart.

During the 1980s and ’90s, Corea explored both sides of the jazz coin with his Elektric and Akoustic bands. In the late 2000s, he dueted with Japanese pianist prodigy Hiromi Uehara.

Early Life and Backing Work

He was born Armando Corea to an Italian-American family in Chelsea, Mass., on June 12, 1941. His father, Armando J. Corea, played trumpet in Boston-area Dixieland bands during the 1930s and ’40s. The young Armando started playing piano at age four. His earliest influences included the bebop and post-bop bandleaders Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Horace Silver, and Lester Young.

At age eight, Corea started playing drums, which would lend a percussive element to his future keyboard playing. Though initially self-taught on piano, he started studying under concert pianist Salvatore Sullo, who sparked Corea’s interest in classical composition.

As a teenager, Corea played in the St. Rose Scarlet Lancers, a Chelsea drum and bugle corps. In high school, he formed his first jazz trio, which played Horace Silver numbers at local clubs. He then moved to New York City, where he briefly attended Juilliard School before launching his professional music career.

In 1962, Corea notched his first recorded pianist credit on the Riverside Records release Go, Mongo! by Mongo Santamaria and His Afro-Latin Group. The following year, he got featured status (along with percussionist Willie Bobo and trumpeter Thad Jones) on the album Stitt Goes Latin by saxophonist Sonny Stitt. Concurrently, Bobo cut three Corea compositions for his 1963 Tico Records release Bobo! Do That Thing | Guajira.

Between 1964 and 1967, Corea played on three albums by Blue Mitchell (Down With It, The Thing to Do, Boss Horn). In 1965 alone, he played on three albums by flutist Herbie Mann (Latin Mann, Monday Night at the Village Gate, The Roar of the Greasepaint). He also played on two albums apiece by Hubert Laws (The Laws of Jazz, Flute By-Laws) and Cal Tjader (Soul Burst, Along Comes Cal). In 1967, he played on albums by Stan Getz (Sweet Rain), Pete La Roca (Turkish Women at the Bath), and Mark Weinstein (Cuban Roots).


  • Tones for Joan’s Bones (1968)
  • Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (1968)
  • Is (1969)
  • The Song of Singing (1971)
  • A.R.C. (1971 • Chick Corea, David Holland & Barry Altschul)
  • Piano Improvisations, Vol. 1 (1971)
  • Sundance (1972)
  • Piano Improvisations, Vol. 2 (1972)
  • Return to Forever (1972)
  • Crystal Silence (1973 • Gary Burton / Chick Corea)
  • My Spanish Heart (1976)
  • The Leprechaun (1976)
  • Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner (1976 • Chick Corea / Herbie Hancock / Keith Jarrett / McCoy Tyner)
  • Circulus (1978)
  • Friends (1978)
  • Secret Agent (1978)
  • The Mad Hatter (1978)
  • An Evening With Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea in Concert (1978 • Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea)
  • Duet (1979 • Gary Burton & Chick Corea)
  • Tap Step (1980)
  • Three Quartets (1981)
  • Touchstone (1982)
  • Trio Music (1982 • Chick Corea, Miroslav Vitous & Roy Haynes)
  • Children’s Songs (1984)
  • The Chick Corea Elektric Band (1986 • The Chick Corea Elektric Band)
  • Light Years (1987 • Chick Corea Elektric Band)
  • Eye of the Beholder (1988 • Chick Corea Elektric Band)
  • Akoustic Band (1989 • Chick Corea Akoustic Band)
  • Inside Out (1990 • Chick Corea Elektric Band)
  • Alive (1991 • Chick Corea Akoustic Band)
  • Beneath the Mask (1991 • Chick Corea Elektric Band)
  • Paint the World (1993 • Chick Corea Elektric Band II)
  • Like Minds (1998 • Burton / Corea / Metheny / Haynes / Holland)
  • To the Stars (2004 • Chick Corea Elektric Band)
  • The Ultimate Adventure (2006)
  • The Enchantment (2007 • Chick Corea & Béla Fleck)
  • Further Explorations (2011 • Chick Corea, Eddie Gómez & Paul Motian)
  • The Vigil (2013)


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