VARIOUS ARTISTS / “Chick Corea’s “Spain” Mixtape
“Spain” is Chick Corea’s most famous composition. Chick first came to national prominence as the keyboardist with Miles Davis in the late sixties. He is featured on Miles’ albums In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew and four or five others from that period. Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea was born June 12, 1941 in Chelsea, Massachusetts and is of Italian heritage (both his mother and father are from southern Italy). His father was a trumpeter and led a traditional New Orleans-style band and encouraged Chick to play piano at age four. By high school, Chick was gigging professionally. Corea moved to New York for college but dropped out after six months to pursue a professional career. After a short stint with Sarah Vaughn, Chick recorded his debut album, Tones For Joan’s Bones, and in 1968 released his first critically acclaimed album, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, featuring Roy Haynes on drums and Miroslav Vitous on bass. Between 1968 and 1970 Chick Corea worked in the Miles Davis band both recording and touring. In 1970 Corea co-founded the avant garde band, Circle, with reed multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Altschul. In 1971 Corea made a major move in founding the group Return to Forever (RTF) featuring Stanley Clarke on bass, Joe Farrell on sax and flute, Airto Moreira on percussion and Flora Purim on vocals. Since RTF, Corea has won 16 Grammy awards and recorded over 100 albums and DVDs.
I liked the "extraversion" of Latin music, especially the dance and salsa style music - bands like Tito Puente's band and Machito's band. The Cuban dance music was a great kind of antidote to some of the more serious, heady jazz that I was into. I liked the "outgoingness" and exuberance of the music. I just stayed interested in all kinds of Latin music. Then I discovered Spanish Latin music, which is flamenco. —Chick Corea“Spain” is one of those tunes you recognize immediately, in fact when you first heard it you probably thought you had heard it before. Over the years it has become a jazz standard both in the USA and abroad. Although I never was big on the fusion sound, I was aware of some of Corea’s acoustic jazz work and also knew about RTF but didn’t closely follow Corea’s career. As I prepared this mixtape I found myself listening to oodles of versions of "Spain," including at least five or six, naw, make that eight or nine versions by Chick ranging from solo to a concert with some of Spain’s leading jazz musicians and two flamenco dancers. One long version I admired but did not include is a duet between Chick Corea and Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba—Gonzalo is a monster gifted with unbelievable technical ability and Corea proved to be up to the challenge. It’s part of Rendezvous In New York, a 10-DVD set (yeah, you read correctly, ten DVDs in one package) of Chick playing in a variety of contexts including a duet with Bobby McFerrin recorded at the Blue Note in New York City. There was just too much to include everything so I ended up going with the original RTF version and a different Bobby McFerrin duet. My notes below tell you why I selected each of the cuts. Ole and enjoy! —Kalamu ya Salaam Chick Corea’s Spain Mixtape Playlist Because Corea has done a ton of popular music (i.e. jazz fusion), it's easy to overlook his incredible bona fides as a serious jazz musician. Once I started researching his playing I had to revise upward my estimation of him. I'm particularly impressed by his willingness to experiment rather than simply stick to popular formulas. His duet with Bobby McFerrin is a good example. It's a rousing performance but hardly in a popular vein. Enjoy these seven versions ranging from the RTF original to a romping, stomping, wailing and sailing rendition by Bobby Enriquez. 01 Chick Corea And Return To Forever - Light As A Feather This is the second RTF album and the recorded debut of Corea’s composition “Spain.” Note the “acoustic handclaps”—Corea is also a drummer. 02 GRP All-Star Big Band - GRP All-Star Big Band Here’s a smooth jazz take with some intriguingly rough edges courtesy of Lee Reitnour on guitar and Ernie Watts & Eric Marienthal on flutes. 03 Al Jarreau - This Time When it comes to singing this song, I believe Al Jarreau virtually owns it. 04 Michel Camilo & Tomatito – Spain This is from a very, very interesting collaboration between Dominican jazz pianist Michel Camilo and Spanish flamenco guitarist Tomatito. 05 Ray Charles - Ray Charles: Live In Japan This is the Ray Charles band—I know what you’re thinking but Ray always had a strong jazz undercurrent and did a number of jazz tunes that had a Latin flavor. BTW, this is an album that has been out of print and when it was in print, it was only available in Japan. Beg, borrow or steal—this is a Ray Charles album you need! 06 Chick Corea & Bobby McFerrin – Play No lyrics but it’s all about the astounding vocals of Bobby McFerrin. The standing ovation is justly deserved. 07 Bobby Enriquez - Prodigious Piano Philippines pianist Bobby Enriquez is one of my favorite modern jazz pianist—his exuberance, wit and prestidigitations enable him to play up a storm, sort of a cross between Erroll Garner and Cecil Taylor with sprinklings of Monk.
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