April - June 2022
Sarah Vaughan -- Chick Corea
Disclaimer: I do not own the music. All rights go to their respective owners.
Sarah Lois Vaughan was an American jazz singer. Nicknamed "Sassy" and "The Divine One", she won four Grammy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. She was given an NEA Jazz Masters Award in 1989. Critic Scott Yanow wrote that she had "one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century". Vaughan was born in Newark, New Jersey, to Asbury "Jake" Vaughan, a carpenter by trade who played guitar and piano, and Ada Vaughan, a laundress who sang in the church choir, migrants from Virginia.The Vaughans lived in a house on Brunswick Street in Newark for Vaughan's entire childhood. Jake was deeply religious. The family was active in New Mount Zion Baptist Church at 186 Thomas Street. Vaughan began piano lessons at the age of seven, sang in the church choir, and played piano for rehearsals and services. She developed an early love for popular music on records and the radio. In the 1930s, she frequently saw local and touring bands at the Montgomery Street Skating Rink. By her mid-teens, she began venturing illegally into Newark's night clubs and performing as a pianist and singer at the Piccadilly Club and the Newark Airport. Vaughan attended East Side High School, then transferred to Newark Arts High School, which opened in 1931. As her nocturnal adventures as a performer overwhelmed her academic pursuits, she dropped out of high school during her junior year to concentrate on music. Vaughan was frequently accompanied by a friend, Doris Robinson, on her trips into New York City. In the fall of 1942, by which time she was 18 years old, Vaughan suggested that Robinson enter the Apollo Theater Amateur Night contest. Vaughan played piano accompaniment for Robinson, who won second prize. Vaughan later decided to go back and compete as a singer herself. She sang "Body and Soul", and won—although the date of this victorious performance is uncertain. The prize, as Vaughan recalled to Marian McPartland, was $10 and the promise of a week's engagement at the Apollo. On November 20, 1942, she returned to the Apollo to open for Ella Fitzgerald. During her week of performances at the Apollo, Vaughan was introduced to bandleader and pianist Earl Hines, although the details of that introduction are disputed. Billy Eckstine, Hines' singer at the time, has been credited by Vaughan and others with hearing her at the Apollo and recommending her to Hines. Hines claimed later to have discovered her himself and offered her a job on the spot. After a brief tryout at the Apollo, Hines replaced his female singer with Vaughan on April 4, 1943. Vaughan began her solo career in 1945 by freelancing on 52nd Street in New York City at the Three Deuces, the Famous Door, the Downbeat, and the Onyx Club. She spent time at Braddock Grill next to the Apollo Theater in Harlem. On May 11, 1945, she recorded "Lover Man" for Guild with a quintet featuring Gillespie and Parker with Al Haig on piano, Curly Russell on double bass, and Sid Catlett on drums. Later that month, she went into the studio with a slightly different and larger Gillespie/Parker aggregation and recorded three more sides. She won Esquire magazine's New Star Award for 1947, awards from Down Beat magazine from 1947 to 1952, and from Metronome magazine from 1948 to 1953. Recording and critical success led to performing opportunities, with Vaughan singing to large crowds in clubs around the country during the late 1940s and early 1950s. In the summer of 1949, she made her first appearance with a symphony orchestra in a benefit for the Philadelphia Orchestra entitled "100 Men and a Girl." Around this time, Chicago disk jockey Dave Garroway coined a second nickname for her, "The Divine One", that would follow her throughout her career. One of her early television appearances was on DuMont's variety show Stars on Parade (1953–54) in which she sang "My Funny Valentine" and "Linger Awhile". In 1986, Vaughan sang "Happy Talk" and "Bali Ha'i" in the role of Bloody Mary on a studio recording by Kiri Te Kanawa and José Carreras of the score of the Broadway musical South Pacific, while sitting on the studio floor. Vaughan's final album was Brazilian Romance, produced by Sérgio Mendes with songs by Milton Nascimento and Dori Caymmi. It was recorded primarily in the early part of 1987 in New York and Detroit. In 1988, she contributed vocals to an album of Christmas carols recorded by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with the Utah Symphony Orchestra and sold in Hallmark Cards stores. In 1989, Quincy Jones' album Back on the Block included Vaughan in a brief scatting duet with Ella Fitzgerald. This was her final studio recording. It was her only studio recording with Fitzgerald in a career that had begun 46 years earlier opening for Fitzgerald at the Apollo.
Armando Anthony "Chick" Corea was an American jazz composer, keyboardist, bandleader, and occasional percussionist. His compositions "Spain", "500 Miles High", "La Fiesta", "Armando's Rhumba" and "Windows" are widely considered jazz standards. As a member of Miles Davis's band in the late 1960s, he participated in the birth of jazz fusion. In the 1970s he formed Return to Forever. Along with McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, and Keith Jarrett, Corea is considered one of the foremost jazz pianists of the post-John Coltrane era. Corea continued to collaborate frequently while exploring different musical styles throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He won 25 Grammy Awards and was nominated over 60 times. Armando Corea was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, to parents Anna (née Zaccone) and Armando J. Corea. He was of southern Italian descent, his father having been born to an immigrant from Albi comune, in the Province of Catanzaro in the Calabria region. His father, a trumpeter who led a Dixieland band in Boston in the 1930s and 1940s, introduced him to the piano at the age of four. Surrounded by jazz, he was influenced at an early age by bebop and Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Horace Silver, and Lester Young. When he was eight, he took up drums, which would influence his use of the piano as a percussion instrument. Corea developed his piano skills by exploring music on his own. A notable influence was concert pianist Salvatore Sullo, from whom Corea started taking lessons at age eight and who introduced him to classical music, helping spark his interest in musical composition. He also spent several years as a performer and soloist in the St. Rose Scarlet Lancers, a drum and bugle corps based in Chelsea. Corea began his professional recording and touring career in the early 1960s with Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann, and Stan Getz. He recorded his debut album, Tones for Joan's Bones, in 1966 (not released until 1968). Two years later he released a highly regarded trio album, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs, with drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Miroslav Vitous. In 1968, Corea began recording and touring with Miles Davis, appearing on the widely praised Davis studio albums Filles de Kilimanjaro, In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew and On the Corner, as well as the later compilation albums Big Fun, Water Babies and Circle in the Round. Named after their eponymous 1972 album, Corea's Return to Forever band relied on both acoustic and electronic instrumentation and initially drew upon Latin American music styles more than rock music. On their first two records, the group consisted of Flora Purim on vocals and percussion, Joe Farrell on flute and soprano saxophone, Miles Davis bandmate Airto on drums and percussion, and Stanley Clarke on acoustic double bass. Drummer Lenny White and guitarist Bill Connors later joined Corea and Clarke to form the second version of the group, which blended the earlier Latin music elements with rock and funk-oriented music partially inspired by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, led by his Bitches Brew bandmate John McLaughlin. This incarnation of the band recorded the album Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, before Connors' replacement by Al Di Meola, who was present on the subsequent Where Have I Known You Before, No Mystery, and Romantic Warrior. In 2015, he reprised the duet concert series with Hancock, again sticking to a dueling-piano format, though both now integrated synthesizers into their repertoire. The first concert in this series was at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle and included improvisations, compositions by the duo, and standards by other composers. Corea died of a rare form of cancer, which had only been recently diagnosed, at his home in the Tampa Bay area of Florida on February 9, 2021, at age 79.