Also in 1972, Mr. Corea teamed up for the primary time with the vibraphonist Gary Burton to document one other album for a similar label, “Crystal Silence.” The two turned longtime buddies and collaborators. Taken collectively, the 2 ECM albums represented one thing near the complete breadth of Mr. Corea’s identification as a musician — starting from the serene and meditative to the zesty and driving.
“We made that record in three hours; every song but one was a first take,” Mr. Burton mentioned in an interview, recalling the “Crystal Silence” periods. They would go on to document seven duet albums, and they continued performing collectively till Mr. Burton’s latest retirement.
“I kept thinking, ‘Surely it’s going to run out of steam here at some point,’” Mr. Burton mentioned. “And it never did. Even at the end, we would still come offstage excited and thrilled by what we were doing.”
Return to Forever modified personnel ceaselessly, however its most enduring lineup featured Mr. Corea, Mr. Clarke, the guitarist Al Di Meola and the drummer Lenny White. That quartet iteration launched a string of fashionable albums — “Where Have I Known You Before” (1974), “No Mystery” (1975) and “Romantic Warrior” (1976) — that leaned right into a blazing, hard-rock-influenced type, and every reached the Top 40 on the Billboard albums chart.
Mr. Corea launched plenty of different influential fusion albums on his personal, together with “My Spanish Heart” (1976) and a string of recordings together with his Elektric Band and his Akoustic Band. Later in his profession he additionally delved deeply into the Western classical custom, recording works by canonical composers like Mozart and Chopin, and composing a whole concerto for classical orchestra.
“His versatility is second to none when it comes to the jazz world,” Mr. Burton mentioned. “He played in so many styles and settings and collaborations.”
In 1997, delivering a graduation tackle at Berklee College of Music, Mr. Corea instructed the members of the graduating class to insist on blazing their very own path. “It’s all right to be yourself,” he mentioned. “In fact, the more yourself you are, the more money you make.”
Alex Traub contributed reporting.