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Hancock, Corea together again. Their benefit tour comes on heels of new albums

Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock are together again for the first time since their 1978 duo piano tour. This time the two jazz greats are performing with their bands - Corea with his Elektric Band, and Hancock with the Headhunters, featuring Michael Brecker on saxophones. It would be hard to find two more versatile musicians. Although both started out as jazz pianists, they soon became involved in various kinds of crossover in the '70s - Corea gradually entering the world of electronics with his Return to Forever group, and Hancock breaking ground with electric jazz/rock on his ``Headhunters'' album and its hit song ``Chameleon.'' Although Corea now leans more toward classical music and Hancock toward funk, the two have similar backgrounds. Both men had tenures in the bands of Mongo Santamaria and Miles Davis and have played with many of the same musicians over the years. In a recent interview, Chick Corea spoke about his musical affinity with Hancock:

``We each have a strong interest in the other's music; which means that, when we play together, I'll play in such a way to enhance Herbie's phrases, and he does the same thing for me. I think there's also a similarity in the fact that we're not afraid to try different colors and styles of music.''

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Both Hancock and Corea recently completed albums that show both the differences and similarities in their styles. Corea's album, ``Eye of the Beholder,'' is a bit of a departure for him. He says it's the first time he has successfully blended his acoustic piano into his otherwise all-electric group. Stylistically, it's a kind of low-key jazz/rock and Latin fusion with New Age overtones. Hancock's new one, ``Perfect Machine,'' on the other hand, is a down and gritty street-funk affair, featuring Ohio Players' former vocalist, Sugarfoot. The tour will include selections from the new albums, of course.

Chick Corea welcomes such musical diversity with open arms. `Stylistic changes are moving at a faster rate,'' he says. ``...There's a positive end to that, in that if one generation of people see enough styles go past their eyes, they're eventually bound to have the realization that style hasn't got a lot to do with quality. There's a basic freedom that we're talking about when we talk about whether this kind of music is the best, or that kind of music is the best - it's got to do with what people appreciate as beautiful, and you can't dictate that to anyone.''

It was this line of thought that inspired Corea to title his album ``Eye of the Beholder.''

How would Chick Corea describe his own music? ``I'd say I play a lot of different kinds of music, mostly kind of a jazz music. I usually say jazz, to let them know that it's not heavy metal!''

Remaining dates in the Hancock/Corea tour, which is sponsored as a benefit for the homeless, are: June 24, New York; June 25, Boston; June 27, Devon, Pa.; June 28, Columbia, Md.; June 30, Atlanta; and July 1, Tampa, Fla.

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