Chick Corea is going to be an easy man to find this month. He’s in residence at the Blue Note through Nov. 27, with a cavalcade of collaborators. (On Mondays he’ll rest, ceding the stage to some good jazz singers.) The booking seemed like a good excuse to reflect on Corea’s many-sided musical personality, which I did over here.
My personal history with Chick Corea’s music goes back almost as far as my active engagement with live jazz: as I’ve noted in JazzTimes and elsewhere, I had my head turned around by an Akoustic Band concert in 1990, in Honolulu. (An aside: pianist Robert Glasper once told me that the first jazz album he really paid attention to was Alive, the document taped during this tour. He had it on cassette.)
I’ve had occasion to see Corea many times since: in several different trios, and with Origin, Béla Fleck, Remembering Bud Powell and the Five Peace Band. (There are others I must be forgetting.) A few years ago I went to Austin to cover the Return to Forever reunion, observing rehearsals for a couple of days, taking in the big debut and then airing my thoughts, including some mild reservations.
Others have their own reservations about Corea -- I know of at least one prominent musician-blogger who decidely isn’t a fan -- and others still are hyper-specific about which iteration of the artist’s music they prefer.
Everybody digs Now He Sings. But there are those who get especially fired up by Crystal Silence or No Mystery or Three Quartets, and those who prefer the laser-etched contours of the Elektric Band.
I’m interested in this partisanship, which certainly exists with other jazz artists, but usually not in an accessible present tense. So lemme ask you, dear reader: which version of Chick works best for you, and why? What’s the album to beat? If you’re hitting the Blue Note this month, which night, or nights, will you be going? And if Chick is just not your guy, I want to hear from you, too. Have at it, below.