Jazz CD of the Month: Chick Corea / The Vigil / Stretch Records

Aug 30, 2013

Our CD of the Month at KIOS is from legendary pianist and bandleader Chick Corea. His latest release, The Vigil, features a new lineup of players along with the keyboard legend in an energetic program that recalls Corea's legendary group Return To Forever.

The Vigil presents a new Corea led lineup (also holding the same name) on seven selections which blend acoustic and electric music very well: Galaxy 32 Star 4; Planet Chia; Portals to Forever; Royalty; Outside of Space; Pledge for Peace and Legacy. The new lineup is  Chick Corea: Yamaha CFIIIS Concert Grand Piano, Motif XF8, Moog Voyager; Tim Garland: tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, flute; Charles Altura: electric and acoustic guitars; Hadrien Feraud: bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums; Pernell Saturnino: percussion (1-3); Gayle Moran Corea: vocals (5); Stanley Clarke: bass (6); Ravi Coltrane: saxophone (6).

 "Galaxy 32 Star 4" starts the record off with a blast of fusion fire with saxophonist Tim Garland and guitarist Charles Altura making strong, impassioned statements. "Portals To Forever" presents Corea taking the lead with drummer Marcus Gilmore making a strong contribution on this track that runs over 16 minutes. On "Pledge For Peace" Corea is joined by special guests Stanley Clarke on bass and Ravi Coltrane on saxophone in a live performance of a song billed as "A prayer inspired by John Coltrane". The record ends with the band back in the studio for the uptempo, bright "Legacy".

In a career that has spanned over 50 years, Chick Corea has firmly established himself as one of the major pioneers of fusion. "No musician has used the fusion concept with more variety, intelligence and unimpeachable taste than Chick Corea," wrote Len Lyons, a longtime jazz author and critic, in his book "The 101 Best Jazz Albums."  A total master of the acoustic piano as well as its electric counterparts, in addition to being a formidable composer and educator, Corea was a rising star in the 1960s. Chick Corea’s highly influential recording of original compositions and improvisations, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, was released in 1968. This album inspired countless pianists with Corea’s vocabulary of melodic, rhythmic and harmonic approaches.  Chick Corea’s compositions have become jazz standards. “Steps”, “Windows” , “Crystal Silence” , “Spain” and “Litha” have been covered and performed by jazz musicians for decades.

Chick Corea worked with Miles Davis from the fall of 1968 to the summer of 1970. While with Miles Davis during this period Corea participated in the  legendary recordings In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew, in addition to touring with Miles in 1969 in Europe, recordings of which were released in early 2013 on a new box set.

Corea along with bassist Stanley Clarke co-founded the hugely successful Return To Forever, which started off in an acoustic based direction with Flora Purim and Airto Moreira.  The second version of Return to Forever, fueled by Chick Corea's intention to explore a harder-edged rock-jazz fusion, converged in 1974. The arrival of hard-rocking guitarist Al Di Meola, in addition to funk-fueled drummer Lenny White with original RTF members bassist Stanley Clarke and founder Chick Corea completed the lineup. The golden RTF quartet recorded three popular crossover albums: 1974's Where Have I Known You Before (Di Meola's debut), 1975's Grammy-winning No Mystery and 1976's studio finale, Romantic Warrior, which became the best selling of all RTF recordings. It was R.I.P for RTF in 1977, but in the 1980s Corea continued his electric pursuits with the Chick Corea Electric Band. 

Return to Forever was resurrected once for a quartet concert in 1983 before returning to the history books as one of the best loved fusion bands. An exciting  2008 reunion saw the band on tour once again. Return to Forever's classic lineup of keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke, guitarist Al Di Meola and drummer Lenny White took their reunion tour to Omaha, Nebraska and the Holland Performing Arts Center's Kiewit Concert Hall Wednesday, June 18, 2008 . The concert was the essence of jazz rock at its best, with brilliant improvisations from all band members as well as mesmerizing group interplay. It was an unforgettable evening.

This writer hopes that Chick Corea and The Vigil make a stop in Omaha. Based on the music of their debut recording, this band will almost certainly continue the dynamic, exciting pulse of discovery Chick Corea has pursued since the late 1960s. 

For more information on Chick Corea, you may visit his website at

Listen to an interview with Chick Corea