Chick Corea Trilogy With Christian McBride and Brian Blade, Saturday, April 13, 8:00pm, Music Connects Stage in Schmidtchen Theater Powered by Atlantic City Electric

The Story

Keyboard virtuoso, Down Beat Hall of Famer, NEA Jazz Master and 22-time Grammy-winning jazz legend Chick Corea comes to the Exit Zero Jazz Festival for the first time with a stellar piano trio featuring bass great Christian McBride and drummer extraordinaire Brian Blade. A tirelessly creative spirit and remarkably prolific composer whose artistic output over five decades is simply staggering, Corea has covered every kind of music from straight ahead to avant-garde, bebop to fusion, children's songs to chamber music, along with some far-reaching forays into symphonic works. And at age 77, he continues to forge ahead, continually reinventing himself in the process. “My mission is to bring the joy of creating everywhere I can,” he has said. “When I can bring some pleasure I become happy myself.”

A Boston native, Corea came to prominence as a member of Miles Davis’ band during a very important transitional period (1968-1970), playing electric piano on such landmark albums as  Filles de Kilimanjaro, In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew and Live-Evil. He left Miles to form the avant garde quartet Circle with bassist Dave Holland, drummer Barry Altschul and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, then formed the high-powered group Return To Forever, which blazed the fusion trail from 1973-1977. During the next few years, Corea emphasized his acoustic playing in a wide variety of settings, including separate duet tours with Gary Burton and Herbie Hancock, a quartet featuring tenor sax great Michael Brecker, trios with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes and even some forays into classical music. In 1985, he formed a new fusion group, the Elektric Band, featuring bassist John Patitucci, guitarist Frank Gambale, saxophonist Eric Marienthal and drummer Dave Weckl. To balance out his electric output he formed his Akoustic Trio with Patitucci and Weckl a few years later. 

From 1996-1997, Corea toured with his all-star Remembering Bud Powell quintet, honoring an important influence on his own piano playing, and also unveiled his acoustic sextet Origin. He began the 21st century by releasing a pair of solo piano records, followed by more electric affairs in 2004’s To the Stars and 2006’s The Ultimate Adventure. In 2007, Corea teamed with banjo master Béla Fleck on The Enchantment and subsequent tour. In 2008, he got together with guitar great John McLaughlin for the first time since they both played on Miles Davis' 1972 album On the Corner to form the Five Peace Band, featuring saxophonist Kenny Garrett, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and bassist McBride. After 25 years, Return to Forever reunited for a 2008 tour with Stanley Clarke, Al Di Meola and Lenny White, yielding the live Returns in 2009. Corea has since teamed with Japanese piano sensation Hiromi for Duet, recorded a live trio album with Clarke and White (2011’s Forever) and a trio outing with bassist Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian (2012’s Further Explorations). In 2013, he returned to electric music with The Vigil and in 2014 released the expansive three-CD set Trilogy, recorded live at stops all over the world with bassist McBride and drummer Blade. Corea celebrated his 75th birthday in 2016 with a six-week residency at the Blue Note in New York, where he was joined by a bevy of guests including Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, John McLaughlin, Stanley Clarke. The performances were released in 2017 as The Musician CD and accompanying documentary film. 

The Sound

With McBride’s humungous bass tones anchoring the proceedings and Blade’s interactive swing factor providing the forward momentum, Corea will lead the Trilogy on standards like “How Deep Is the Ocean,” “My Foolish Heart” and “The Song Is You” along with Corea classics like “Spain,” “Armando’s Rhumba” and “You’re Everything” and the requisite Thelonious Monk vehicles like “Work” and “Blue Monk.” 

When and Where

Music Connects Stage in Schmidtchen Theater Powered by Atlantic City Electric, Saturday, April 13, 8:00pm

Blake Haney