Chick Corea calls music an antidote to world’s ills

Jazz pianist gathers multicultural band for new recording

Jazz master Chick Corea believes that musicians have the power to unify a divided world.

The virtuoso pianist-keyboardist, who’s set to play the 50th Anniversary Concord Jazz Festival on Saturday alongside Dave Koz & Friends Summer Horns, Patti Austin & The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra and Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band, makes this clear in the title track of his new album, “Antidote.”

“The song’s message is that we, the musicians and artists, are the antidote to the world’s ailments,” says Corea, a 24-time Grammy winner, best known for composing the jazz standards “Spain,” “500 Miles High,” “La Fiesta” and “Windows.”

“We’re the ones capable of ending war and cruelty because we make people sing and dance. We bring them back to their native state, their native spirit,” he says.

What raises Corea’s spirits these days is his newly formed multicultural eight-piece Spanish Heart Band, with whom he recorded “Antidote.” The 11-track album offers new arrangements of tracks including “My Spanish Heart,” “Armando’s Rhumba,” “Duende” and “Yellow Nimbus” from Corea’s classic albums, 1976’s “My Spanish Heart” and 1982’s “Touchstone,” revolutionary for marrying jazz fusion pieces with traditional Latin music.

The title track of “My Spanish Heart” was particularly ripe for reinvention, and Corea wanted his new version to be set in a groove and include lyrics. On the “Antidote” rendition, Panamanian Latin jazz singer and “Fear the Walking Dead” actor Ruben Blades sings. Corea’s wife and longtime collaborator Gayle Moran Corea, who appeared on the original track, performs the mesmerizing vocal choir prelude and ending.

On “Antidote,” Corea also reimagines favorites from legendary composers who inspired him: Brazilian multiinstrumentalist Antônio Carlos Jobim’s “Desafinado,” Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía’s “Zyryab” and Russian pianist Igor Stravinsky’s “Pas De Deux.” The recording’s new compositions are “Antidote” and “Admiration.”

To achieve the range of Latin sounds he was looking for, Corea filled his band with Spanish, Cuban, Venezuelan and American musicians. It was also important to the bandleader, in these troubled times, to show how people from diverse cultures can work together in perfect harmony.

“It’s such a joy to play my music with the Latino, Afro-Cuban and Flamenco taste and this is the perfect band to do it with,” Corea said. “This amazing group of musicians and singers made it possible for me to compose and arrange in the spirit of Spanish and Flamenco music without limits.”


Concord Jazz Festival

With Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, Rick Braun, Kenny Lattimore, Aubrey Logan, Esperanza Spalding, Chick Corea, Carlitos Del Puerto, Marcus Gilmore, Poncho Sanchez & His Latin Jazz Band, The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra with Scotty Barnhart, Patti Austin, Jamison Ross, Carmen Bradford, Celebrating Ella!, Jazzmeia Horn

Where: Concord Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord

When: 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3

Tickets: $39.50 to $149.50


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