I was saddened to hear about the loss of one of the musicians who started me listening to jazz music, Chick Corea. He was 79. By the time Chick left us he had been named as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2006, won 23 Grammys, and had been nominated a total of 67 times.
I never met Chick personally, but I was fortunate to have had a brief encounter that reflected his musical greatness. I was visiting Boston a few years ago, and while riding in a taxi I noticed the driver (this older cat) was playing a jazz-fusion radio station - by "older" I mean he was about 25 years older than I am. We started talking about music and determined we both play. He played piano and had his own jazz band back in the day. I was shocked when he told me he would let young "Chickie" hang out and listen to them play when he was first getting started with music. What are the odds of running into someone who was connected to young Chick Corea when he was finding his musical voice - and deciding what instrument he wanted to play. Chick was brilliant on piano, but most folks don't know he was also a pretty good jazz drummer too, but that's another story.
The social media announcement of his death included words from Chick himself: "I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. 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."
During the 2020 COVID pandemic when we were playing outside each week, our COVID band played one of Chick's tunes, 500 Miles High. I just learned about this song about two years ago and it's one of my favorites. Of course, we sound nothing like Chick's group, but I think he would be grinning from ear to ear if he heard us playing his song and saw the fun we were having. He'd probably sit in with us too!
Thanks for sharing so much with us, Chick, and rest in peace, my friend.