After 20 Grammy awards, it is no secret that Chick Corea is one of the most important jazz musicians today. His modern style as a pianist and keyboardist is exceptionally compatible with a seemingly endless network of notable collaborators, especially in latin settings. His work as a leader has also led to some new sounds that we are all grateful for. Return to Forever is often the first of many such projects that comes to mind.
Naturally his manager, Bill Rooney deserves some credit for keeping things rolling since he took the job in 2001. I was able to dig up some info – particularly a 2011 article in JazzTimes – which gave a little bit of insight as to how he operates.
Prior to being Chick’s manager, he was the Vice President of Marketing and Investor Relations for Digital Lightwave. From what I understand, this is a company that develops test equipment for telecommunications companies. How this job leads to a career in the music industry I have no idea, but the transition seems to have worked out for Mr. Rooney. Apparently he was an admirer of Chick’s (as everyone should be) long before taking the job. This I can only imagine feeds the motivation necessary to do a job which is not for everyone. Similarly he has worked with Dweezil Zappa, who’s father Frank is someone Rooney disguised himself as in his high school yearbook.
Rooney has been instrumental in setting up tours for Chicks various ventures in the past 13 years (including 2 RTF tours) and is often sighted as “Executive Producer” on recordings. Chick is currently touring Europe with Bobby McFerrin and will be in Mexico on December 29 with The Vigil. I am not aware of any upcoming albums but recently released a 3-Disk recording of one of my favorite groups – his trio with Christian Mcbride and Brian Blade.