Jazz keyboardist Chick Corea: A musician for all seasons

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LENOX — Jazz pianist Chick Corea has been enjoying success for more than 45 years. Yet it's no surprise that, even at age 75, he continues to be a force in modern jazz.

The 20-time (yes, that's right; 20-time) Grammy award winner will be at Tanglewood on Sunday night, performing with his stellar trio. For the record, Corea has also collected two Latin Grammys in his career.

Corea's band features himself as keyboardist, double bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. The group is touring in support of Corea's superb triple-CD, "Trio," a compilation of covers and original material that peaked at No. 9 on the jazz charts when it was released in 2014.

Corea has touted this group of musicians as one that is as talented as any with whom he has worked. This is not hyperbole. McBride has worked with both Sting and the aforementioned Metheny. Blade has drummed for Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock.

Then again, the roster of musicians with whom Corea has worked reads like a jazz encyclopedia: Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughn, Gary Burton, Hubert Laws, Bela Fleck, Bobby McFerrin and Miles Davis.

"I've been very lucky," he told The Grand Rapids Press in 2014. "I've been leading a very rich life. I've managed to make associations with some great musicians. Or maybe I'm just smart."

Corea joined Davis in 1968, replacing Hancock as keyboardist. He played on such groundbreaking albums as "Bitches Brew," "In a Silent Way" and "Filles de Kilimanjaro." This was an era that saw Davis and his band emerge as the premiere jazz fusion group in the world.

"I spoke to Miles before our first gig," said Corea in an Associated Press interview in 2011. "I asked him, 'Will there be a rehearsal?' He said, 'Nah. Just play what you hear.'"

In 1972, Corea formed his own group, "Return to Forever," which furthered the concept of jazz fusion and electric jazz, with Latin influences.

Corea has since branched out into composing classical music, including "String Quartet No. 1," a piece with no keyboards.

But Corea has never really strayed far from jazz and jazz fusion. "Trilogy," which won Grammys for Best Jazz Instrumental album and Best Jazz Solo (the track "Fingerprints") features tracks by jazz greats Theolonius Monk and Joe Henderson. In addition, Corea delves into the Great American Songbook, featuring songs by Ira Gershwin and Irving Berlin, as well.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251

IN CONCERT

Who: Chick Corea Trio

When: Sunday evening at 8

Where: Tanglewood, Ozawa Hall, West Street (Route 183), Lenox

Tickets: $66-$19

How: 888-266-1200; tanglewood.org; in person at Tanglewood Main Gate box office (West Street)


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