Featured Album – Now He Sings, Now He Sobs – Chick Corea

There were a lot of different directions in jazz being tried out at that time. It was a period of exploration with several great exploratory leaders like Miles, Coltrane, Ornette, Mingus, and many more. I was into that atmosphere of trying out new approaches. And I was also checking out Bartók, Stravinsky, Stockhausen, Alban Berg, and some other composers who were also trying new things. – Chick Corea in regards to this album

Chick Corea was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1941. (Real name, Armando Anthony Corea.) His father was a jazz trumpeter who played around Boston. Chick sat down at the piano for the first time at four years old. He also played drums, including in a drum and bugle corps, but keys have been his primary instrument.

After moving to NYC and spending time at Juilliard, Chick started to play professionally in the ’60’s. What I did not know till I researched this post is that his first professional gig was with Cab Calloway, a jazz and big band leader.

Corea quickly fell in with the cream of New York musicians, first recording an album called Tones for Joan’s Bones in 1966. He was accompanied on this album by, among others, trumpeter Woody Shaw. Prior to recording his second album, he did work with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and, in 1967, Sarah Vaughn.

But it was the release of his 1968 album, Now He Sings, Now He Sobs that really put Corea on the map. (I find it interesting to think that while much of the world was at that point absorbing the Beatles’ White Album, there was a whole cadre of musicians for whom it might as well not have even existed.)

I’ll skip the long introductory tune “Steps – What Was,” to give you a shorter taste of this album. (But if you dig this stuff, check out the whole album on the Spotify link below.) The song is “Matrix” and Chick is accompanied by drummer Roy Haynes and Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous. Haynes, a fellow Bostonian, has played with everybody and his cousin from Charlie Parker to Stan Getz.

Vitous was a founding member of Weather Report and also has a lengthy resume of greats. Of his work on this album, Wikipedia says,”{It] shows his strong rhythmic sense, innovative walking lines, and intensity and abandon as an improviser.”

Spotify link

Next up, the title track. This song won a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999. Some bloggers like to describe how this instrument interacts with that instrument or what a player is “doing.” I suck at that. Suggest just listening to it, draw your own conclusions.

Spotify link

As to the name of the album and inspiration for songs, Corea told the Grammy Hall this: “The title Now He Sings, Now He Sobs comes from I Ching, an ancient Chinese book that I was into in the ’60s when I was studying different philosophies and religions. It’s also known as the “Book Of Changes.”

And it has a section named “Now He Sings; Now He Sobs — Now He Beats The Drum; Now He Stops.” The poetry of that phrase fit the message of the trio’s music on Now He Sings, Now He Sobs to me. You know, the gamut of life experiences — the whole human picture and range of emotions.”

Chick went on to play with Miles Davis (replacing Herbie Hancock) on the seminal fusion albums Bitches Brew, Filles de Kilimanjaro, and In a Silent Way among others. He later formed the great and super-popular fusion band Return to Forever whose most well-known incarnation included Corea, guitarist Al DiMeola, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White.

As of this writing, Chick and drummer Steve Gadd are touring Europe with what sounds like a hot band. See ’em.

 

11 thoughts on “Featured Album – Now He Sings, Now He Sobs – Chick Corea

  1. Very nice Doc. Listening to the title track as I type. Thanks for the suggestion to “draw your own conclusions”. That’s kinda what I do. Started with the RTF stuff and went back and found his earlier music. Lots of Chick in the old collection. Must say I dont have this one. Chick has his unique sound. Thanks for naming the other players on the piece. You’re sending me out the door with some CC to accompany me.

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      1. So hard to keep up with all the great jazz (music) out there. I have a pretty wide range but am always adding to it. This was a good recommendation but like you say the proof is in the listening and CB’s ears dig this big time. I have a RTF take coming up but again like you said that was all intro for the traditional stuff. I have a Chick Magnet (A pic of CC I picked up at a record store years ago) on my fridge. No bullshit.

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        1. This was one of the very first jazz albums a friend told me about and I hate to say it wasn’t too, too many years after it came out. I didn’t have the ears to hear it back then. Took a while.

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        2. For me Doc it was the same as the blues. I heard it from Cream, John Mayall, Fleetwood Mac etc then went back and found Muddy, Wolf and the boys. Weather Report, Mahavishnu, RTF etc sent me on a life long jazz kick. Still making discoveries with both genres. My next project is getting you a pair of cowboy boots and a Stetson.

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