Performance Thursday, April 9, 2015 | 8 PM

Chick Corea and
Herbie Hancock

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
For more than half a century, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock have been blazing their own paths of artistic innovation at the keyboard. From the great Miles Davis bands of the 1960s, to the stadium-filling, genre-shattering Headhunters and Return to Forever of the '70s, to the unparalleled, award-winning careers ever since, Corea and Hancock are among the most important influences on jazz—and beyond—of our time. In a rare and historic duo performance, jazz royalty reigns on the Carnegie Hall stage as they come together for a very special evening of music.


  • Chick Corea, Piano
  • Herbie Hancock, Piano

Event Duration

The program will last approximately two hours with no intermission.


  • Chick Corea

    Chick Corea has attained iconic status in music. The keyboardist, composer, and bandleader is in the DownBeat Hall of Fame and is a NEA Jazz Master, as well as the fourth-most nominated artist in Grammy Awards history with 63 nods and 22 wins, in addition to a number of Latin Grammys. From straight-ahead to avant-garde, bebop to jazz-rock fusion, children's songs to chamber and symphonic works, Chick has touched an astonishing number of musical bases in his career since playing with the genre-shattering bands of Miles Davis in the late 1960s and early '70s. Yet Chick has never been more productive than in the 21st century, whether playing acoustic piano or electric keyboards, leading multiple bands, performing solo, or collaborating with a who's who of music. Underscoring this, he has been named Artist of the Year twice this decade in the DownBeat Readers Poll. Born in 1941 in Massachusetts, Chick remains a tireless creative spirit, continually reinventing himself through his art.

    Chick's classic albums as a leader or co-leader include Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes), Paris Concert (with Anthony Braxton, Dave Holland, and Barry Altschul), and Return to Forever (with Joe Farrell, Stanley Clarke, Airto Moreira, and Flora Purim), as well as Crystal Silence (with Gary Burton), My Spanish Heart, Remembering Bud Powell, and Further Explorations (with Eddie Gomez and Paul Motian). A venturesome collaborator, Chick has teamed with artists from jazz legend Lionel Hampton to new-generation pianist Stefano Bollani, from banjoist Béla Fleck to vocal superstar Bobby McFerrin. Chick's duo partnerships with Gary Burton and Herbie Hancock have endured decades.

    The latest release from Chick ranks as a new classic in his discography: Trilogy, a live triple-disc set with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. Nominated for two Grammys, the album documents this trio interpreting classic Chick compositions (such as "Spain"), plus previously unreleased pieces by the pianist ("Piano Sonata: The Moon"), an array of jazz standards, and even a prelude by Alexander Scriabin. In 2012, Chick's most recent album with vibraphonist Gary Burton, Hot House, marked the fifth decade of their duo and earned two Grammy Awards.

    Rare for a jazz musician, Chick received the Richard J. Bogomolny Award from Chamber Music America in 2010, and he broke new ground as a composer with The Continents: Concerto for Jazz Quintet and Chamber Orchestra, released in 2013.

    For a sold-out international tour and live album in 2008, Chick reconvened his pioneering jazz-rock fusion band Return to Forever, which he founded in 1972. The core of the band--Chick with original member Stanley Clarke and veteran Lenny White--produced Forever, a Grammy-winning acoustic album in 2011. Soon after, a new version of Return to Forever--with Clarke, White, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Frank Gambale--toured the world to great acclaim, yielding the live CD/DVD The Mothership Returns. In another celebration of kindred spirits, Chick co-led the Five Peace Band with guitarist John McLaughlin, a fellow Miles Davis alum. The group won a Grammy for Five Peace Band Live.

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  • Herbie Hancock

    Herbie Hancock is a true icon of modern music, transcending genres while maintaining his unmistakable voice. With an illustrious career that spans five decades and 14 Grammy Awards, he continues to amaze audiences around the globe.

    Born in Chicago in 1940, Herbie was a child prodigy, performing a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at age 11. He began playing jazz in high school, initially influenced by Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. He also developed a passion for electronics and science, and double-majored in music and electrical engineering at Grinnell College.

    Herbie's 1962 debut album, Takin' Off, was an immediate success, producing the hit "Watermelon Man." The following year, Miles Davis invited Herbie to become part of his quintet, joining Davis, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. In 1973, Herbie put together his own band, The Headhunters. The group's crossover hit single "Chameleon" became the first jazz album to go platinum. By mid-decade, Herbie was playing for stadium-sized crowds all over the world and had no fewer than four albums in the pop charts at once.

    In 1980, Herbie introduced trumpeter Wynton Marsalis to the world as a solo artist, producing his debut album and touring with him as well. In 1983, a new pull to the alternative side led Herbie to a series of collaborations with Bill Laswell, including Future Shock and its hit single "Rockit." Three years later, he won an Oscar for scoring the film 'Round Midnight, in which he also appeared as an actor.

    The Headhunters reunited in 1998, recording an album and touring with the Dave Matthews Band. That year also marked the release of Gershwin's World, which included collaborations with Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Kathleen Battle, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Wayne Shorter, and Chick Corea.

    Herbie reunited with Bill Laswell to collaborate with young hip-hop and techno artists on 2001's Future 2 Future. The following year, he joined Roy Hargrove and Michael Brecker for a live concert album, Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall, in tribute to John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Possibilities, released in August 2005, teamed Herbie with many popular artists, such as Sting, Annie Lennox, John Mayer, Christina Aguilera, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, Joss Stone, and Damien Rice.

    In 2007, Hancock released River: The Joni Letters, a tribute to his longtime friend and collaborator Joni Mitchell, featuring Wayne Shorter, Lionel Loueke, Dave Holland, and Vinnie Colaiuta. He also enlisted vocalists Norah Jones, Tina Turner, Corinne Bailey Rae, Luciana Souza, Leonard Cohen, and Mitchell herself. It earned three Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, making Herbie one of only a handful of jazz musicians ever to receive that honor. In 2010, he released the critically acclaimed The Imagine Project, which won Grammys for Best Pop Collaboration and Best Improvised Jazz Solo.

    Herbie is the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Creative Chair for Jazz and also serves as chairman of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. He is a founder of the International Committee of Artists for Peace and was awarded France's esteemed Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. In July 2011, he was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. In December 2013, Herbie was the recipient of a prestigious Kennedy Center Honor. He was also named the 2014 Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University and recently completed The Ethics of Jazz as part of Charles Eliot Norton Lectures. His memoir, Herbie Hancock: Possibilities, was published by Viking last October.

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Jeff Tamarkin on Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock

It was nearly half a lifetime ago for both Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock when the two esteemed jazz keyboardists set out on a joint acoustic tour that ultimately resulted in two massively popular live albums, An Evening with Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea: In Concert (1978) and CoreaHancock (1979). A handful of other gigs followed, including a festival date in 2013, but for the most part the two have not collaborated to such an extensive degree for more than three decades. Now that they’ve agreed to tour again, they can’t wait to hit the stage.

“We have a deep friendship, a deep bond, and a deep respect for each other,” says Hancock, “and we seem to react creatively to each other—I would say in an effortless way, but that would make it seem like we’re not working at it. Chick can play something and immediately it will stimulate something in me, and it goes back and forth. We’re constantly feeding each other.”

Corea adds, “It’s all improvisation and exploration—that’s always been our favorite musical game.”

One of the surprises fans may witness this time around is the introduction of synthesizers into their onstage setup. “We may not always use them, but it’s pretty open-ended in case we want to go to them,” says Hancock.

Both Corea and Hancock were innovators in electronic jazz in the late 1960s and ’70s, each having spent time apprenticing with Miles Davis before going on to explore and create new sounds and rhythms using electric instrumentation, Corea with his groundbreaking fusion band Return to Forever and Hancock with his funky Headhunters. Some critics called the 1978 shows a return to acoustic music for them, but, says Corea, “I don’t think Herbie and I ever thought that playing the piano was a ‘return.’ It always has been and still is our basic instrument. All the electric instruments I usually use just for coloration and added textures. The meat and heart of the music has always come through the piano.”

“I think the synthesizers will be something different than we had before,” Hancock adds. “We are a lot older—we’re both in our 70s now—and we’ve had a lot more experience. And we haven’t really played together, so that’s going to be exciting for us, and we hope our excitement from working together is going to extend and project out to the audience.”

Whatever they do end up playing, just the fact that these two kindred spirits are creating music together once again brings joy to both participants. “After those early tours together, we got amazing positive feedback from people who attended those concerts, and it’s lasted over the years,” says Hancock. “I still have people come up to me and ask, ‘When are you and Chick going to tour again?’”

Adds Corea, “Just the two of us playing, doing the thing we both love doing best, is such a highlight of the creative imagination for me that I know the audiences will be able to feel that atmosphere. The audience should be prepared—as we will be—to experience anything.”

—Jeff Tamarkin is the associate editor of JazzTimes magazine.


Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea

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