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Jazz Pianist Returns to Trio Setting - 2001-10-21

One of today's most compelling jazz trios consists of pianist Chick Corea, bassist Avishai Cohen and drummer Jeff Ballard, members of Corea's jazz sextet Origin. Describing his New Trio as an "intimate ensemble", Corea composed and arranged 10 original tunes for their debut album Past, Present & Futures.

You never know what Chick Corea is going to do next. He's done traditional jazz in a variety of settings, including trios, quartets and big bands; groundbreaking fusion with his jazz-rock group Return to Forever; and even some classical music.

He began his career alongside jazz greats Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Gary Burton. Corea has recorded live albums and solo piano improvisations, not to mention a collection of works by Mozart with vocalist Bobby McFerrin and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

So why the return to a trio? According to Corea, "piano, bass and drums are the heart and soul of the jazz sound."

Chick Corea was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 1941. He learned to play piano at age 6, and two years later mastered the drums. His earliest influences were pianists Horace Silver and Bud Powell. After working in jazz groups led Mongo Santamaria, Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann and Stan Getz, Corea made his recording debut as a leader in 1966, with the album Tones For Joan's Bones. Thirty-five years, dozens of albums and 11 Grammy Awards later, Chick Corea is still in top form.

Chick Corea has always loved world music, especially the music of southern Spain, Morocco, Egypt and the Middle East. He pays tribute to these influences on "Rhumba Flamenco" from the Chick Corea New Trio's album Past, Present & Futures.

He also remembers his hometown roots in this piece called "The Chelsea Shuffle." Chick Corea dedicated "The Chelsea Shuffle" to all of his old friends from high school in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Looking ahead, Chick Corea will spend the next two months performing solo piano in Germany, France and Austria. He'll return to the U.S. in December for a special three-week engagement at New York's Blue Note nightclub.

Past and present bandmates will appear with Chick for his 60th birthday celebration, including Roy Haynes, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Michael Brecker, Gary Burton, John Pattitucci and current New Trio members Jeff Ballard and Avishai Cohen.