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Three Top Jazz Legends

Updated on March 21, 2018
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Kenna has worked in the entertainment business for over 20 years, promoting special events with musicians, celebrities, and dignitaries.

1. Chick Corea’s Career as a Jazz Legend

Chick Corea is a legend and by far the most esteem and persuasive jazz composer, keyboardist, and first and foremost. Throughout the industry jazz connoisseurs strongly assert that he is surely the father of the electric jazz fusion as a movement and accomplishment. One can’t help agree that he epitomizes the movement when they see him perform or play one of his many albums. His sound is well-known throughout the world, composing jazz standards while performing with nearly all the leading jazz entertainers during his lengthy career.

On June 12, 1941, Anthony Armando Corea is his birth name when he arrived in his mother’s arms in Chelsea, Massachusetts on June 12, 1941. The first time he played an instrument was the piano at the age of four where his father encouraged him. Chick’s father Armando was a performer in the ’30s and ‘40s as a popular bandleader. During his developing years, Chick devoted his time listening to Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and Bach. He spent a great deal of time with his ear to the talents of Bud Powell, Lester Young, Horace Silver, and Charlie Parker. All of these talented and well-known artists had a deep-down effect on the seeking pianist.

Early Years

At the beginning of his career, Chick performed with the best including Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Herbie Mann, and Willie Bobo. Each and every one of these performers inspired his affinity for Latin American melodies. One for one, you could add Chick to your playlist, listen to his tunes, and appreciate his talent for the percussive beat and double time send-up that suffuses Latin music.

Entertainingly, Chick performed with other legends like Gary Burton, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, and Blue Mitchell. Soon, in 1968, he started playing with the super talented Miles Davis' band. He went over the top playing his electric piano With Mile’s Band. Tune into their highly celebrated In a Silent Way album and the singled out, top of the charts Bitches Brew.

On a jazz high, Chick continued to create, perform, record with many distinguished artists. Joining forces as a trio with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes with Now He Sings, Now He Sobs. The album shaped a staple sound in the record anthologies toward the end of the 1960s.

Return to Forever

Corea’s cutting-edge band called Circle, from 1969 to 1971, was an essential push into the free form of improvisation, indicating the inspiration of jazz artists, such as Paul Bley and Ornette Coleman, and deriving from 20th Century originators such as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

All good things must come to an end, the Circle separated in 1972. Chick being a creator put together his next band called Return to Forever. The band included such talents as singer Flora Purim, reedman Joe Farrell, Stanley Clarke, and Airto Moreira. Resulting in two celebrated albums of graceful, energizing Latin-laced music, the band tipped their talent with regard to the electronic aspect of jazz by fetching spirited drummer Lenny White and the multi-talented, electric guitarist Bill Connors.

Changes

Like all popular bands, some members leave and get replaced. Such as Connors was replaced by guitarist Al DiMeola in 1974. But, Return to Forever continued to lead fusion movement up to the point when the band split up in 1976. Chick kept on touring with a small but talented orchestra, comprising of a 13-piece assembly of strings and horns. The tour, without a doubt, was a success because the small orchestra was might fusion of jazz and entertainment. Chick has continued a legendary career including Grammy awards, sold out performances and popular albums, charming jazz aficionados with astounding jazz quartets to energizing fusion quintets and distinguished trios to standard duets.

2. Herbie Hancock Performers Beyond Any Boundaries with Music

Any jazz aficionado willingly concurs one of the real legends of music is by far Herbie Hancock. His abounding career in music extends no boundaries of genres. Yet, he maintains his distinguishable voice. His five-decade career has won him 12 Grammy Awards involving Album of the Year in 2007 in support of “River: The Joni Letters.” Not enough can be said about the man. He is one of the legends of all time bringing the soul of jazz to the audiences worldwide.

Hancock created a dramatic change in acoustic as well as electronic jazz, including R&B. He appears immortal because he is older than 71 years of age but looks like a young 50-year-old.

Jazz-Rock Fusion

Many Hancock devotees agree since he effortlessly crossed over his music, he is, without a doubt, one of the most treasured jazz musicians ever to grace the movement. Undeniably, Miles Davis is standing above the rest, and Hancock clearly acknowledges Davis. Still, Davis understood talent when he heard it. He applauses Hancock in his autobiography.

Hancock flexibility kept him centerstage performing jazz-rock fusion, funk, free jazz, bebop, world fusion, hip-hop, instrumental pop, and dance. All of his talents brought him 11 albums throughout the '70s and 17 from 1973 to 1984, including three in 1974. Such production is unsurpassed and placing him as one of best eclectic musicians in all aspects of the jazz movement.

Child Prodigy

It is no revelation that he is a celebrated child prodigy at the young age of seven playing the piano. Once in high school, he gravitated in the direction of jazz, establishing his own jazz troupe. Confidently recognized as a jazz artist when he graduated from college, he started playing with well-known performers like Coleman Hawkins and Donald Byrd in Chicago. As soon as he merged with Byrd’s quintet, he went to where the jazz was really happening, New York City.

Jazz aficionados agree that Hancock’s artistic calling will say, during his time with Byrd, he was advancing his own kind of music, blending gospel, the blues, and bebop. The end result was Watermelon Man as his first hit.

Hooked Up With Mile Davis

After that, he united with renowned Miles Davis quintet and along with Tony Williams and Ron Carter, they develop into the rhythm section. The Davis quintet delves into jazz as a more adaptable and less unchanging music.

Of course, Hancock was just beginning as a jazz musician and he continues to perform with various top artists on the planet, never dropping his focus while broadening the boundaries of his music.

3. Stanley Clarke Thrills the Jazz Movement

In 1971, a fresh graduate from Philadelphia Academy of Music, bassist Stanley Clarke reached the New York jazz scene without much preamble. He soon was playing with prominent bandleaders like Gil Evans, Stan Getz, Pharaoh Saunders, Dexter Gordon, Joe Anderson, Horace Silver, and Art Blakey. Clarke even jammed with Chick Corea, who, during this time, was a young pianist-composer being recognized as a true talent.

At the time of his arrival in New York, jazz lovers, as well as musicians and jazz lovers, were captivated by Clarke’s irresistible inventiveness and across-the-boards musical capacity with the acoustic bass. He is more than competent at the technique of working the bass lines and managing as a vibrant timekeeper, but he has a magnificent consciousness of lyricism and melody. He has mentioned several times he learned from his champions Charles Mingus and Scott LaFaro. Including, John Coltrane, who is a non-bass player. Clarke imagined the bass as a necessary, esteemed and melodic instrument that needs to be situated at the front of the stage instead of its usual location in the background. Clearly, listening to Clarke’s music and you will not argue this point.

School Days

Clarke’s vision became an actuality when he and Corea established the influential electric jazz and fusion band called Return to Forever. The innovative band was a substantial show for each of the band member’s deep-seated musical personas. The band turned out eight albums, two of which went gold, Romantic Warrior and Return to Forever. The band even won a Grammy for their album called No Mystery.

After Return to Forever members split and went their individual ways Clarke concentrated on recording Stanley Clarke album, presenting his hit song, “Lopsy Lu.” Two years later he recorded and released his next album School Days. Interestingly, School Days turned out to be his foundation song that every up-and-coming bassist must master.

Slap Funk

Slap funk became Clarke’s must-learn technique as well, meaning all budding bassists must master it. Even though some consider Larry Graham of Sly and the Family Stone developed a basic slap technique, Clarke seized the style and took it up a notch playing complex jazz harmonies.

Another exceptional quality about Clarke is that he is the first bassist to headline tours and sell out shows worldwide. He crafted precious gemstones in recording studios that rolled into gold albums. At the youthful age of twenty-five, he was viewed as a forerunner in the jazz fusion movement.

Inventing New Bass Instruments

Clarke advanced and give life to two new instruments, the tenor bass, and piccolo bass. An octave higher compared to normal electric bass became the piccolo bass, one fourth higher than the traditional bass became the tenor bass. The excitement of the new instruments allowed Clarke to expand his aptitude and his range in melody to higher and more meaningful registers.

Granting Clarke’s career in music sustained and expanded to the point of succeeding with numerous awards in the mid-‘80s, he channeled his immeasurable creative energy to film and television. First, in television, he began with Pee Wee’s Playhouse and earned an Emmy-nomination for the score. He fared well and arrived on the big screen as performing and scoring his own compositions for Boyz 'N the Hood, Romeo Must Die, and The Transporter.

Creates Music

Clarke returned to performing live and recording in the studio, after completing several film scores. He hasn’t stopped yet. He still creates music with budding jazz musicians and distinguished jazz artists worldwide.

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