Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column with William Price King – #jazz pianist/electric keyboardist and composer Chick Corea

Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea was born in June 1941 and is a jazz pianist/electric keyboardist and composer. His compositions “Spain”, “500 Miles High” and “Windows” are considered jazz standards. He was born in Massachusetts and his father, a jazz trumpeter who had let a Dixieland band in Boston in the 1930s and 1940s introduced him to the piano at age four. He was surrounded by the music of the jazz greats from an early age and his main influencers were Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Lester Young. He took up the drums as eight years old whilst continuing to develop his piano skills, which including using it as a percussion instrument.

Chick began taking formal piano lessons from concert pianist Salvatore Sullo around the same age, who introduced him to classical music and composition. He spent the next several years as a performer and soloist for the St. Rose Scarlet Lancers a drum and bugle corps based in his home town of Chelsea.

In high school he began playing gigs locally and then moved to New York where he spent a month a Columbia and six months at Juilliard studying musical education. He was disappointed with both and decided to launch his career in New York. In the early 1960s he worked with established artists such as Herbie Mann and Stan Getz, releasing his debut album Tones for Joan’s Bones in 1966.

Time to enjoy some of the music hits from Chick Corea in his incredible career.

“Tones For Joan’s Bones” is Chick Corea’s debut album, recorded in 1966 and released on the Atlantic Label in 1968 featuring Woody Shaw on trumpet, Joe Farrell on tenor saxophone and flute, Steve Swallow on double bass and Joe Chambers on drums. The title song is a medium tempo, somewhat complex, swing piece with a bridge* that goes into a semi-atmospheric 6/8 time feel, typical of Corea’s compositional style. It starts off in a subtle manner with interwoven melodic lines, piano and saxophone solos, and ends with a roaring full band climax.

*Bridge – The bridge, a musical section of the piece, is often used to contrast with and prepare for the return of the verse and the chorus.

“Now He Sings, Now He Sobs” is a piano jazz trio album Corea released in 1968 with bassist Miroslav Vitous and drummer Roy Haynes. This recording finds Corea experimenting more with free jazz. It was probably the beginning of the most innovative part of his career. The compositions are mellow and poised. The title track is superb with a confluence of forms: part march, part Spanish swing, lots of chord changes, and a clever coda.*

*Coda – In music, a coda is a passage that brings a piece to an end. It may be as simple as a few measures or as complex as an entire section of music.

“Spain” from the album “Light As A Feather” was composed by Chick Corea in 1971 and received two Grammy nominations for Best Instrumental Arrangement and for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance by a Group. In 2001, Corea won the Best Instrumental Arrangement Grammy for “Spain for Sextet and Orchestra”. In this video Corea shares the stage with Jorge Pardo (flute, soprano and alto sax), Charles Benavent (bass), Rubem Dantas (percussion), Hossam Ramzy (Egyptian percussion), Tom Brechtlein (drums), and Auxi Fernandez (Flamenco dancer). This piece opens with the adagio* from the Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquin Rodrigo. “Spain”  may be the most instantly recognizable composition that Corea wrote during his career. It is certainly the most famous.

*Adagio – a tempo marking, indicating that the music is to be played slowly.

The legendary bond between keyboard virtuoso Chick Corea and master drummer Steve Gadd, which lasted more than 50 years, yielded a two-disc studio album in 2018, featuring five epic new Corea compositions. On this album they share the spotlight with Benin-born guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke, saxophonist and flutist Steve Wilson, Cuban bassist Carlitos Del Puerto, Venezuelan percussionist Luisisto Quintero, and special guest Phillip Bailey from the group “Earth Wind and Fire”. Together they have crafted an album that draws upon the expansive keyboard sound of Corea’s 70’s fusion work and updates it for a new generation with exciting funk-based arrangements, intimate lyrical excursions and Spanish-hearted improvisations, while at the same time interweaving through various African traditions.

Chick Corea celebrated his 75th birthday in 2016 by playing with more than 20 different groups during a six-week stand at the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, New York City.

“I pretty well ignore the numbers that make up ‘age’. It seems to be the best way to go. I have always just concentrated on having the most fun I can with the adventure of music.

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About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo with French/Greek guitarist Manolis, and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.

In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.

William Price King on Tumblr – IMPROVISATION

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As always we would love to receive your feedback.. thanks Sally and William