All posts by Kevin Vallene

At 75, Chick Corea Still Has That Magic Touch

Image result for chick corea

Chick Corea celebrated his 75th birthday this year but the acclaimed jazz pianist is still going strong with a number of live performances this year. Corea was on the road all summer and has settled into an eight week stay at the Blue Note Club in Greenwich Village, New York. This year he has played with 15 different bands that have played music from every phase of Corea’s career.

 

Chick Corea was born in 1941 in Massachusetts and had music influence from his father who was a bebop trumpet player. Corea gravitated to Latin music in High School and was also influenced by Miles Davis. He got the chance to work with Davis in the 1960’s and helped pioneer jazz rock fusion with records like In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. Corea also formed the group Return to Forever which would become his most successful venture and still records with the likes of pianist Herbie Hancock and vibraphonist Gary Burton.

 

Through his numerous groups and bands, Corea finds great importance in collaboration. “The particular music that I love is not just casual interaction with other musicians, but actually creative interactions with other musicians,” Corea says. “It means everything”. The love of creation is what he says keeps him going.

 

You can read more about Corea’s past and influence on jazz at NWPR.org:

http://www.npr.org/2016/11/13/501592227/at-75-chick-corea-still-has-that-magic-touch

Hyperdrive on the Piano

 

The Ruthless Shapes of Paradise

A hyperpiano is, for the most part, the same as any other piano with one difference. Instead of just hitting the keys to create sound, a multitude of different objects are placed on different strings of the piano. Many of these sounds seem to come right out of an eerie horror movie soundtrack.

While playing the piano, everything from copper bars, rubber blocks, cow bells and even plastic cassettes can be placed on the strings as well as slid up and down for different effects. For example, by placing a rubber block across the strings, higher pitched sounds are created. Sliding the block will make audible rubbing or whipping sounds. By listening to just the sounds being created by these objects, it’s hard to tell that you are actually listening to a piano. In fact, it sometimes sounds like you are listening to another instrument like a guitar or banjo. These different sounds can also be combined with playing the piano traditionally, which adds structure to the music and creates a more cohesive piece.

Hyperpianos are not widely used throughout the musical world and this could be attributed to their odd sound as well as the risk of damaging the piano. Strings are fragile and placing and rubbing objects on them could ruin them. Specific sizes of objects are recommended as to not damage the strings. This recommendation comes from the creator and main player of the instrument Denman Maroney, who lends his sound to Steve Olson’s album, The Ruthless Shapes of Paradise.

Despite its relative obscurity, the hyperpiano is able to create numerous sounds by changing which objects are on the strings. While it may not work as well in mainstream jazz, it could find a home in Avant-Garde Jazz or by providing the soundtrack for the next blockbuster horror or suspense film. If you are in the mood for some truly experimental jazz, check out the hyperpiano. You can learn more about it and the different techniques used to create its unique sound at Maroney’s website:

http://www.denmanmaroney.com/Hyper.html