The legendary jazz pianist and composer died at the age of 79, victim of a rare form of cancer, leaving the “hope” that the world will have even more “art and fun”.
In a farewell message posted by the musician’s family through his website, Armando Anthony “Chick” Korea he thanks the “formidable musician friends” who helped him to fulfill “the mission of bringing the joy of creation to all possible places”.
“Having accomplished this mission together with the artists I admire so much, this was the richness of my life,” writes Corea, who died this Tuesday.
Pianist and composer, he appears among precursors of fusion jazz, since the late 1960s, when he succeeded Herbie Hancock, in the groupings of trumpeter Miles Davis – with whom he worked on one of the most famous Jazz albums of all time, Bitches Brew – having collaborated with musicians such as Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, crossing “free jazz”, improvisation and elements from “rock’n’roll”.
Over the course of half a century, Chick Corea has always explored different musical areas and their border areas, and has kept working with musicians of different expressions. In this respect, the duet with the Austrian pianist of classical roots Friedrich Gulda or the choice of pieces by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók stands out for his repertoire.
With Spanish ancestry, he appealed to Joaquín Rodrigo’s “Concerto de Aranjuez” for the prelude to one of his best known works, “Spain”, and brought together Latin American influences in “My Spanish Heart”.
In the farewell message, Corea did not mention some of the big names in music with whom he worked, but his career spanning more than half a century has earned him 23 Grammy awards.
Since the 1960s, he has also worked with Stan Getz or Herbie Mann, among other musicians who have emerged in the emerging New York Jazz scene.
Your own band, Return to Forever, is considered one of the ones that ushered in the era of Fusion Jazz.
One of the most influential Jazz bands of the 1970s, Return to Forever suffered several “incarnations”, first with Corea, Stanley Clarke on acoustic bass, Joe Farrell on soprano sax and flute, Airto Moreira on drums and percussion and the wife of Moreira, Flora Purim as vocalist.
In 1972, the band recorded the album Light as a Feather, a collection of Jazz melodies with a Brazilian flavor, including new versions of “500 Miles High” and “Captain Marvel” and also the one that Corea himself considered his best known composition , “Spain”.
The band also featured guitarist Bill Connors, drummer Lenny White and Al Di Meola, who would later become a virtuoso of jazz guitar.
It was also in Return to Forever that Corea met the one who was to become his wife, a vocalista Gayle Moran.
His latest album, Plays, from 2020, is a testament to the virtuosity and eclecticism of Corea, within styles that helped make it unavoidable, such as Jazz bebop, and even classical music.
According to the family, the rare form of cancer that victimized the legendary musician was discovered “very recently”.
Although “he was the first to say that his music said more than words could ever do”, says the family, Corea wanted to leave a few words for his friends and loved ones.
“It is my hope that everyone who has the inspiration to write, play, interpret or do so,” says Corea in his last message. “If not for you, then do it for the rest of us. It’s not just about the world needs more artists, is also a lot of fun ”, wrote the pianist.
Throughout his career, Chick Corea added several performances in Portugal, between Lisbon and Porto, Cascais, Funchal, Faro, having performed at the Casa da Música, in the Coliseums and in different editions of Jazz in August, of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, as well as at the old Seixal Jazz festival.
He brought different formations to Portugal, such as the Chick Corea Elektric Band, which he took to the Lisbon and Porto coliseums in 1992. He played solo, as in the concert of Lisbon 94 – Capital of Culture, at Teatro S. Luiz, and performed in duo, with the complicity of Herbie Hancock, in his last concert in the country, in 2015, at cooljazz, in Oeiras.
A year earlier, he included the Centro Cultural de Belém, in Lisbon, on his world tour and, in 2013, he was one of the names featured at the Funchal jazz festival.
Among his last concerts in Portugal is also participation in the Algarve Jazz, in 2009, the same year that he was headliner at Estoril Jazz.