Updated: Feb 26
I didn't originally intend to write about Chick Corea today, but this morning when I heard he had moved on to whatever comes after we leave here, I felt compelled to pay my respects. You're Everything was the first composition of his that I learned to play, and it was also one of Chick's avowed personal favorites at the time. The title also really describes Chick. He was everything he could be musically.
Call it fusion, jazz-rock, crossover or whatever. People like Chick, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, Jan Hammer, George Duke and others led the way to a whole new hybrid musical universe for those of us who were perplexed by what to do when disco replaced rock as the dominant popular musical force. I remember with some humor, taking a song of mine to the Chappell Music Publishing Songwriter's Workshop in NY and being told that the song I had written in 3/4 should be converted to 4/4 to accommodate a disco beat. Suffice it to say, that was never going to happen!
Chick was one of the new vanguard of electronic and acoustic keyboard players and composers exploring and employing a staggering and exciting new array of synthesizer sounds, jazz chords and rock, funk and ethnic rhythms while remaining grounded in traditional jazz and acoustic piano. I saw him perform live twice. The first time was in a two piano concert at Carnegie Hall with Herbie Hancock. It was magical being able to hear two of my keyboard heroes playing together in concert. Herbie was great as only he can be, but Chick was phenomenal. He was fiery, fearless and at times made the piano sound like an orchestra. The second time I saw him perform was years later at an outdoor festival in upstate New York. The passage of time had made him somewhat more reserved but he still had the heart, the soul and the magic.
I think the first album I heard Chick play on was Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. If there is a hereafter one can only imagine the jubilant jam session these two will have. As for me, I will continue to touch down on Chick's music once in a while, and tonight I will listen to Light As A Feather and follow him as far as I can to the musical heights he was so adept at scaling. As sung so beautifully by Flora Purim in the lyrics of his song 500 Miles High:
Some day you'll look into her eyes,
and there'll be no goodbyes
and yesterday will have gone.
And you'll find yourself in another space
500 miles high.