Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
He was simply one of the most popular and successful jazz musicians of all time. Pianist, keyboardist, and composer Chick Corea died February 9 at the age of 79 of a rare form of cancer which was only discovered very recently. No other details were given.
The Guardian wrote:
“Admired for his work across many genres from rock and Latin to classical, he was also loved for his palpable delight in live performance, a quality that allowed him to tour relentlessly for five decades without losing his grin of startled gratitude as he ambled on to the stage.
“He could compose and perform solo-piano miniatures in the manner of Béla Bartók or write and arrange for symphony orchestras and string quartets, and was equally in his element amid rock-anthem firestorms ignited by synths, howling electric guitars, thundering percussion, and his own knack for memorable melodies. But he was probably most at home in the timeless jazz format of an improvising trio with bass and drums.”
This week’s feature is jazzy. But even if you don’t like jazz, I think you might still enjoy the music of Chick Corea.
“What making music for people does, I’ve observed, is it stimulates what’s natural in all of us. It’s native sense, in every person. You don’t have to be a professional anything — all you need to do is be a living human being, and open to the play of imagination.”
We’ll start out by jumping to the 80’s and 90’s when Corea formed a jazz fusion group, the Chick Corea Elektric Band. Jazz fusion combines jazz harmony and improvisation with rock, funk, and rhythm and blues..
From one of their albums, Corea on the electric piano, Eric Marianthal on sax, and Mike Miller on guitar. Amazing how just a handful of musicians can create a big band sound. Here’s a real toe-tapper finger snapper.
That album and the “Blue Miles” track were both nominated for Grammy Awards in 1993. Corea was no stranger to the Grammy awards, receiving 67 nominations and winning 23.
At this year’s Grammy Awards scheduled for March 14 Corea has two more nominations. The only people to win as many or more Grammys as Corea are classical conductor Georg Solti (31), producer Quincy Jones (28), country and bluegrass artist Alison Krauss (27), classical conductors Pierre Boulez (26) and Vladimir Horowitz (25), film composer John Williams (25) and Beyoncé (24). He never won more than two Grammys in any one year. Corea’s Grammy nominations span 48 years (1973-2020); his wins span 45 years (1975-2019).
A major influence of Corea was pianist Thelonious Monk, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time and one of the first creators of modern jazz and bebop. Monk’s style has been described as having levity and a playfulness.
Last August Corea released “Plays,” an ambitious 2-CD/3-LP live solo compilation where Corea engages with several of his favorite composers as well as with enthusiastic audiences in concert halls across the Europe and U.S. One of the tracks honors Monk.
“Blue Monk is a blues that Monk wrote that has become kind of an anthem cause its a real simple lick. It kind of embodies — it distills a lot of what Monk is about into a simple blues,” said Corea. “I’ve been playing it for a lifetime but it’s a go to tune that just opens up worlds somehow on this basic form of the blues — no one better than Monk to pen something like that.”
“You don’t have to be Picasso or Rembrandt to create something. The fun of it, the joy of creating, is way high above anything else to do with the art form.”
Next, one of Corea’s most famous and popular recordings. This clip is from a two-disc, 21-track collection covering Corea’s decades of work. Corea is on acoustic piano, Stanley Clarke on bass, and Lenny White on drums.
From L-R: Al Di Meola, Lenny White, Stanley Clarke
“I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright,” Corea wrote via his family on Facebook. “It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun. And to my amazing musician friends who have been like family to me as long as I’ve known you: It has been a blessing and an honor learning from and playing with all of you. My mission has always been to bring the joy of creating anywhere I could, and to have done so with all the artists that I admire so dearly — this has been the richness of my life.”
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
From an allmusic.com review of the album with our closing track:
“Perhaps Corea’s definitive song of all time, and covered ad infinitum by professional and school bands, ‘Spain’ retains the quirky melody, handclapped interlude, up-and-down dynamics, exciting jam section, and variation in time, tempo, and colorations that always command interest….”