Chick Corea

Press reaction: Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea in North America

As Herbie and Chick approach the final shows of the North American leg of their tour, we take a look at what the press thought about their first collaborative tour since 1978.
Review: Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock on Two Grand Pianos at Carnegie Hall
Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock strolled onstage at Carnegie Hall on Thursday night like a longtime comedy team. Both were members of Miles Davis groups, both have widely recorded on electric keyboards as well as piano, and both are among jazz's greatest pianists. But the last time Mr. Hancock and Mr. Corea toured as a duo was in the late 1970s before resuming celebrated solo careers.
For nearly the entire concert, Mr. Hancock and Mr. Corea played as if each had vowed never to let the other play alone for long, while retaining the prerogatives of a soloist. It made for a night of dense yet remarkably transparent music; what could have been endless collisions were kaleidoscopic overlays instead. Their two very distinct styles could still be discerned: Mr. Hancock's bluesiness and through-the-looking-glass harmonies, Mr. Corea's pinging melodies and hints of flamenco, Chopin and Stravinsky. But they often merged into a glorious, vertiginous rush of ideas.
Davis's "All Blues" unfurled new implications for its open-ended harmonies. On Mr. Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island," Mr. Corea playfully challenged the rolling rhythm of its familiar vamp with syncopations and polytonal toppings of his own. Mr. Hancock's "Maiden Voyage" began as a rapt, luminous meditation, with its theme peeking out one tentative note at a time, before the duo teased it toward a waltz and sent it spiraling through key changes.
At Corea and Hancock's performance, crowd-pleasers and timeless classics
If ovations were cherry blossoms, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock would have been up to their knees in petals at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Friday night. Yet, as pleased as they were with the resounding response, there were moments during the nearly two-hour, sold-out performance when the jazz-piano legends seemed to find even greater delight in each other's company and in the playful gamesmanship that ensued.
It's been nearly 40 years since the release of "An Evening With Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea: In Concert," a landmark compilation of live tracks that still serves as a template for the duo's live performances. Friday night's concert, presented by Washington Performing Arts, reminded listeners time and again that some jazz virtuosos seem destined to share the stage. At one point, in fact, the pianists marveled at how their careers initially interlocked a half-century ago. First, in the early 1960s, Hancock replaced Corea in Mongo Santamaria's band; then, several years later, Corea replaced Hancock in Miles Davis's group.
These days, Corea, 73, and Hancock, who turned 75 on Sunday, are all about mutual admiration, and their engaging camaraderie onstage couldn't be more evident. How best to elicit a smile, a laugh or, better yet, a startled expression from a distinguished peer? Some surefire maneuvering — and outmaneuvering — came into play Friday night. Tumultuous crescendos surged forward, only to stop on a dime. A solitary note hovered near the end of a coda, toying with listener expectations and thwarting a timely resolution. Countless countermelodies surfaced in myriad forms, snugly fitting into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
The evening's biggest crowd-pleaser, though, centered on audience participation. After Corea drafted large groups of concertgoers into a male or female "choir" with a few swipes of his hand, the pianists conducted the ad hoc vocal ensembles in a whimsical and remarkably harmonious performance of Corea's signature hit, "Spain." This time, the audience rewarded itself with a rousing ovation — and deservedly so.
Corea and Hancock are on an extensive world tour. Without doubt, another collection of concert recordings is forthcoming. If so, there certainly won't be a shortage of audacious four-hand collaborations that underscore an enduring bond and chemistry.
At Massey Hall, April 14
Jazz titans Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea casually strolled onto the stage.
They took their seats, facing each other across two grand pianos. Hancock began building lush chords. Corea came in high with butterfly flourishes. Together, they improvised a melancholy lullaby that set the tone for an evening of intimate spontaneity.
The pianists, who both cut their jazz teeth in ensembles led by legendary trumpeter Miles Davis, are touring together for the first time in nearly 40 years. Their 1978 tour, which produced two double live albums, was strictly an acoustic affair. Interestingly, both men were then deeply committed to fusion, playing spacey and rhythmic electrified jazz accented with rock instrumentation.
In one of the evening's more playful moments, Hancock even improvised a hip-hop beat with his synth's drum program while Corea created a crystalline melody on his own before reaching into the top of his piano to pluck its strings.
Between songs, they joked with the eclectic crowd — a crowd as diverse as their respective catalogues, which range from avant-garde to fusion to pop. They even ruminated about Toronto's place in music history.
For an encore, the duo delved into Corea's 1970s fusion masterpiece, "Spain" — a song that follows Miles Davis' 1960 Sketches of Spain LP by borrowing heavily from Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo's 1939 Concierto de Aranjuez.
As their encore crescendoed, Corea and Hancock led the audience in a call and response, encouraging them to mimic their pianos' phrases, laughing when they tried to trip the crowd up. Such jovial intimacy characterized the night: two aging masters still at the height of their musical prowess; two old friends happy to be challenging each other on stage again.
The tour returns in May to Asia and Australia before heading to Europe in July. For further details and tickets, click here.