Friday, January 12, 2007

Chick Corea - The Best of Chick Corea (1993)

Any retrospective of Chick Corea's Blue Note recordings rightly begins with his work while a member of Blue Mitchell's group of mid 1960s. Armando Anthony Corea, born in Chelsea, Massachusetts on 12 June 1941, had gravitated to New York in 1962 after establishing himself in the Boston scene. In New York, he found work with Willie Bobo, Mongo Santamaria and others before landing in the straight-ahead groove of Blue Mitchell Quintet. That soulful ensemble was actually the nucleus of Horace Silver Quintet but became Blue's group when Horace left, and after visits by Walter Bishop and Ronnie Matthews, Chick Corea was hired. He stayed on for two years and three great Blue Note albums. Corea's growing skills as a composer was recognized by Mitchell who used Corea's "Straight Up and Down" and "Tones for Joan's Bones" on his 1966 album Boss Horn.
Corea's first solo album was made for Atlantic in 1966, and his career began to accelerate as his artistic power blossomed. After recording with Stan Getz and Donald Byrd in 1967, he hired drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Miroslav Vitous for his second album, Now He Sings Now He Sobs recorded in 1968 for Solid State. Selections 3 to 8 are taken from that session which was issued in its entirety only with the release under Blue Note label in 1988. On the four originals and two cover tunes we can hear a talent that expands and reaches as the tape rolls. Already solid in assurance and confidence, Corea begins to push the artistic borders that he would later completely rearrange.
A few months after Now He was recorded. Corea replaced Herbie Hancock in the Miles Davis Quintet where he found a kindred musical spirit in bassist Dave Holland. Two years later, Corea returned to the studio to record The Song of Singing for Blue Note (Solid State, a branch of United Artists, was swallowed up by Liberty Records, who already owned Blue Note). Using Holland and the progressive eclectic drummer Barry Altschul, Corea forged into the avantgarde jazz scene of the time, reaching a peak when Anthony Braxton joined them a few months later. The three selections included here are most noteworthy for the space and expansion allowed for three players, yet the songs never lose the sense of swing that always marked Corea's best work.
In 1972 Corea formed Return to Forever and the rest is jazz history. Corea's association with Blue Note continues into the 1990s as noted by Play, the Grammy-winning album of duets with Bobby McFerrin. Always growing, forever full of surprises, Chick Corea continues to amaze and impress.

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