By Culturekiosque Staff
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, 24 APRIL 2013 In celebration of the
50th anniversary of Jazz at MIT, Chick Corea, NEA Jazz Master, recipient
of 18 Grammy awards, composer and keyboard virtuoso, is composing a work
for the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble (Frederick Harris, Jr., director). The
piece will be premiered on 27 April 2013 at Kresge Auditorium in
Cambridge, Massachusetts in a Gala Concert that will also feature jazz
pianist Steve Kuhn.
Chick Corea, a native of Chelsea, Mass., has strong ties to MIT, where
as a junior in high school he rehearsed and played trumpet and piano
in a jazz sextet he formed with Joel Karp MIT 62 and Rich Orr MIT 62,
trombones; MIT graduate students Ed Kane and Roger Eiss, on trumpet and
bass; and Boston resident Lennie Nelson on drums. This was one of Coreas
first bands. It gave him the opportunity to write some of his first
arrangements. "It was a lot of fun," he said in a recent interview.
Corea is one of the major pioneers of fusion, and his far-ranging
influence since the 1960s includes post-bop, Latin, free-form and
avant-garde jazz, as well as classical. He is a rarity in his proficiency
and distinctiveness on both piano and synthesizers, and is one of the
first players to fully exploit the potential of electronic instruments.
Career highlights include collaborating with Miles Davis on Bitches
Brew, considered the first successful rock-fusion album, and forming
the landmark 1970s fusion band Return To Forever. Spain, La
Fiesta and Now He Sings Now He Sobs are among his many
Corea's trademark style is a colorful lyricism filled with
dominant chords, chromatic and diminished scale runs, and rapid-fire
phrasing. He's also renowned for unique electronic voicings, experimental
techniques such as plucking the strings of his piano and a percussion-like
approach to many pieces.
Just as Chick Corea has influenced many young musicians during his
illustrious career, he was himself inspired by the founder of the MIT Jazz
program Herb Pomeroy. "Herb Pomeroy and his band and the musicians he
collected around him provided the first really deep, professional, great
live jazz playing for me," Corea said. It was Pomeroy who offered him his
first professional club date as the opening act for the Herb Pomeroy Big
Band at the Stables club on Huntington Ave., Boston. "I think it was on a
Sunday," Corea recounted, "and that was my first big gig in a jazz club.
It was great. So, Herb and his band provided a lot of inspiration to me
Herb was one of the first elders that I really looked up to, and who
was anaccomplished and great player, arranger and band-leader. He set a
very good example for me. He was a kind, straight-ahead, down-to-earth,
communicative, helpful guy. And made me feel comfortable right away. So I
thank him for that."
Well aware of Pomeroys talents as big band leader, trumpet player
and composer, the first director of music at MIT, Klaus Liepmann, made the
decision to hire Pomeroy in 1963 to lead the MIT student-led jazz band
then called The Techtonians. Under the leadership of Herb Pomeroy, the
jazz program at MIT flourished. The Festival Jazz Ensemble, as it was
renamed) rose to national prominence with its participation at the
Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and in the Notre Dame and Villanova
Jazz Festivals. Herb Pomeroy also further developed the jazz program by
bringing Everett Longstreth to lead a second jazz band at MIT, which he
did for 32 years. Pomeroy was also a member of the faculty at the Berklee
College of Music. He was hired by president, Lee Eliot Berk, son of
Berklees founder Lawrence Berk 32, an MIT alumnus.
Herb Pomeroys legacy continues to enhance the jazz program at MIT to
this day. Thanks to the generosity of his family, the Pomeroy music
library, recordings, and personal papers are now a part of the MIT
Other composers who have written for the MITFJE include Magali
Souriau, Guillermo Klein, Jamshied Sharifi, Kenny Werner, George Schuller,
and Mark Harvey.
Today, in addition to the Festival Jazz Ensemble, which has been
directed by Frederick Harris, Jr. since 1999, the MIT Jazz program
offerings include three jazz combos; (coached by Boston bassist Keala
Kaumeheiwa), the MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble (led by Pulitzer Prize winning
composer and MIT Institute Professor John Harbison), and courses in jazz
history, harmony, arranging, composition, and improvisation (taught by Dr.
Admission to the Gala Concert at Kresge Auditorium in
Cambridge is free in advance and $5 at the door. Tickets are
available at www.mitmta.eventbrite.com.
To view a short video about the 50th Anniversary of Jazz at MIT, please
Headline image: Chick Corea
Interview Archive: Chick Corea in Tokyo
An Interview with Chick Corea in Paris
Miles The Painter:
Interview with Miles Davis