Memorial Day Weekend on The Eastern Shore means, cook-outs, boat rides, and pickin’ a few crabs. On this particular Saturday night at the Avalon Theatre, it means watching one of the finest living musicians in the world perform on piano when Chick Corea visits Easton over the holiday weekend. Tickets are still available.
“Chick Corea is one of the world’s best on the piano. He is one of the most respected musicians worldwide as well,” said Al Bond, Executive Director at The Avalon. “When Paquito D’Rivera saw he was playing here solo, he immediately checked his schedule to see if he could make it back to Easton to attend the show. Leo Kottke who just played here had the same reaction. Anyone who earns such praise from the likes of those two is something we are extremely proud to be hosting at The Avalon. Not to mention the awards the music industry is almost constantly bestowing on him.”
If you love jazz or are a fair weather fan of jazz, then you know the name Chick Corea; a masterful pianist who, along with Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett, was one of the top stylists to emerge after Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner. You probably know he’s played with Miles Davis (Bitches Brew) and that he fronted the definitive jazz-fusion ‘superband’ Return To Forever. You might even know about his more recent genre-hopping classical composer credentials that have earned him accolades galore. But for some who are not aware, this musician/composer is quite literally the definitive jazz pianist of his generation. What Wynton Marsalis is to the trumpet, Corea is to the piano.
“What the agent keeps telling us is so special about this show is the fact that he is playing solo,” said Avalon House manager Suzy Moore. “He doesn’t play a lot of solo shows, so we feel really lucky to see this here. Without a band with him, he feeds off of the crowd and plays to the crowd rather than, say, playing off of a drummer or bass player. It’s going to be wonderful to watch and hear at the same time. He’s one of the best in the world.”
One of the most significant jazzmen since the late ’60s and never content at any time to rest on his laurels, Chick Corea began life in the Boston area as the son of his musician father Armando Corea. Known for its vibrant arts scene and hotbed of jazz musicians at the time, Boston turned out to be the perfect environment for a young Chick to develop and hone piano and music composition skills that would soon catapult him into one of jazz’s most sought after brains. By 1968 he had recorded and released Now He Sings, Now He Sobs – an album that critics, fans, but even more importantly, his musical peers, considered the finest jazz/piano trio album ever released. It still holds that status today.
After a short stint with Sarah Vaughan, Corea was asked and subsequently joined Miles Davis as Herbie Hancock’s gradual replacement, staying with Davis during a very important transitional period (1968-1970). He was a player and major contributor on significant albums, such as Filles de Kilimanjaro and Bitches Brew…which also showcased his transition to the Fender Rhodes electric piano – suggested by none other than Miles Davis himself.
By the end of 1971 Corea had changed directions, forming and leaving the quartet Circle, playing briefly with Stan Getz, then forming a Latin-tinged, melodic outfit called Return To Forever. Within a year, Corea (with Stanley Clarke, Al DiMeola and Lenny White) had directed RTF into a pacesetting, high-powered fusion band. While the music was rock-oriented – a first for Corea – it still retained the improvisations of jazz and the keyboardist remained quite recognizable, even under the barrage of electronics. Decades later, quartets with Michael Brecker, trios with John Patitucci & Roy Haynes, and countless, substantive collaborations with Bela Fleck, Bobby McFerrin, Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett, Kenny Garrett, Dave Holland, Gary Burton, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, The London Philharmonic, Marsalis, etc. have made up a career that is that of a music icon.
“This show will be much more about the beauty of his piano playing and his mastery of the instrument than anything you would see from him in a group. He will be playing standards, he will be playing classic jazz sounds, he will be playing chamber music pieces,” said Moore. In fact Corea, known for his limitless virtuosity for over four decades, has received Chamber Music America’s highest award, the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award-an honor reserved only for those who have made a great impact on the field of chamber music over a significant time period. Corea is an NEA Jazz Master, has 16 Grammy nods and recently joined an elite roster of jazz masters when he was inducted into the DownBeat Magazine Hall of Fame, an honor he shares with Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk. The award, one of jazz’s most coveted distinctions, is rarely accorded to living artists.
“If you are looking for something special to do over Memorial Day weekend, whether you have guests arriving or not, this is a spectacular show to see”, said Bond. “Whenever we have Wynton Marsalis here we always receive requests to bring shows like that into town. Well, this is one of those shows. The idea of a solo piano show can be a tricky one for some people to wrap their heads around because we so often think of it with some sort of accompaniment. That’s how good Chick Corea is. He doesn’t need anything other than that one instrument to fill the theatre to the rafters with sound. Does Marsalis, or Miles Davis, or Leo Kottke need anything other than their own instrument? No. Neither does Chick Corea. It will be a gorgeous Saturday night that will carry over for the whole holiday weekend. I am sure of it.”
Chick Corea plays the Avalon Theatre, Saturday, May 28th at 8pm. There is no opener. For tickets call Colleen in Avalon Box Office at 410-822-7299. You can also visit the Avalon at avalontheatre.com
Saturday, May 28 – 8pm. $60
Avalon Theatre – Easton, MD
Box Office: 410.443.4085