A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Captain Marvel” is an early Chick Corea composition, written for the 2nd Return To Forever album which was released in 1973. There were actually two different Return To Forever bands led by Corea. This is by the first one, which was often Latin-music based. The second incarnation featured electric guitarist Al DiMeola and was more rock-oriented.

Here are some recommended recordings/videos:
(for international readers who may not have access to these YouTube links, I’ve indicated the original album names wherever possible so you can listen to them on music streaming services, etc.)

Chick Corea: Light As A Feather

Stan Getz: Captain Marvel

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
Musically, “Captain Marvel” reflects Chick Corea’s interest in Latin music, which goes back to his teen years when he played with Latin big bands in the Boston area. The tune is a fast samba and moves around, harmonically.

As you play through the chord changes, notice how Corea varies the harmonic rhythm. He stays on each chord for 2 full measures during m. 1-8, and then moves more quickly during the following section, only staying on each chord for one measure. This is one, often overlooked way that Corea uses to keep his compositions interesting.

Also, notice how some of the ii/V’s resolve to the tonic (Cm7/F7/BbMaj7), and some feature deceptive resolutions (Gm7b5/C7b9/DbMaj7). Corea keeps us guessing!!!

Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”

Further links and resources:
Light As A Feather: Wikipedia

Captain Marvel (album): Wikipedia

Captain Marvel playalong track

Captain Marvel: Journey Through The Real Book #56

The Best Way To Use The Real Book

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