On Feb. 9, 2021, Chick Corea handed away after battling most cancers. Corea was a extremely lauded pioneer of jazz fusion — a style that reinterprets jazz music by utilizing various inspirations like rock, steel or Latin music. Within the wider canon of modern-day music, Corea is finest identified for his work alongside Miles Davis and his band, Return to Endlessly, the place the serene Fender Rhodes electrical piano grew to become his signature sound. His loss of life was mourned by musicians from each musical stroll of life; artists from Thundercat to John Mayer commemorated the lack of such an progressive musician via posts on social media.
Corea grew up surrounded by jazz music, as his father, a jazz trumpeter, inspired him to play the piano and confirmed him bebop information. After enjoying at native jazz golf equipment in highschool, Corea attended Columbia College and The Juilliard College earlier than dropping out. He performed gigs with varied teams and collaborated with the likes of saxophonist Stan Getz earlier than beginning his group, the aforementioned Return to Endlessly.
Aspiring to make jazz extra accessible to mainstream audiences, Corea selected to drag inspiration from Latin music as an alternative of the rock music that other fusion groups were experimenting with. In 1972, the group broke onto the jazz scene with their self-titled album “Return to Endlessly.” The album featured Flora Purim’s ethereal vocals floating on Corea’s leaping electrical piano, making a liberating ambiance that completely mirrors the album cowl: a seagull coasting over crystal blue water.
Return to Endlessly’s second undertaking yielded the jazz customary “Spain,” of which any band child is definite to be well-acquainted with. Intoxicatingly groovy syncopation areas out the solos of varied devices, making the piece into an uplifting jam piece. Different highlights from the album embody Purim’s playfully intimate vocals on “You’re Every part,” and the fast-paced “Captain Marvel.”
Corea not solely created his personal progressive music, however he additionally contributed to the works of different legendary musicians like Miles Davis. After the departure of iconic keyboardist Herbie Hancock from Davis’s band, Corea stuffed in. With Corea by his aspect, Davis dreamed up the wildly imaginative and boundary-breaking “Bitches Brew,” (1970) together with different nice works like “Filles de Kilimanjaro” (1968) and “In a Silent Approach” (1969).
The affect of those collaborations’ artistic spirit can’t be overstated — Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke even cited “Bitches Brew” as a artistic affect for his or her seminal dreary rock album “OK Laptop.” Corea expanded upon the ethereal model he had developed with Return to Endlessly by working with vibraphonist Gary Burton. In 1973, the 2 launched the album “Crystal Silence,” which shares its title with the second monitor on Return to Endlessly’s eponymous debut undertaking.
The collaboration appropriately maintained a equally ethereal really feel, particularly with Burton’s twinkling vibraphone efficiency. Nevertheless, Corea opted to play a standard piano moderately than his signature electrical keyboard for sonic distinction. In 2016, the 2 reunited to carry their friendship and good vibes to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert.
In distinction to Burton’s tranquil vibraphone, guitarist Al Di Meola steadily introduced his high-energy rock guitar edge to Corea’s music. Di Meola’s progressive and technical model of guitar enjoying might have been the reason for Return to Endlessly’s greatest commercial success just like the prog-jazz (progressive jazz) file “Romantic Warrior.”
Di Meola would go on to have a really profitable profession on the earth of instrumental music, however he by no means forgot the chance that Corea gave him as a 19-year-old scholar at Berklee School of Music — shortly after Corea’s loss of life, Di Meola reminisced, “Thanks, expensive Chick, for the legacy you gave to the world and for believing in me and giving me the prospect to play with you, my hero! Relaxation In Peace.”
All through Corea’s musical profession, there may be nary a speck on his discography or initiatives he has collaborated on or created himself. Nevertheless, Corea’s devotion to Scientology, the controversial faith created by L. Ron Hubbard, has triggered some to lift eyebrows at his devotion to such a bunch. In 1993 he was not allowed to carry out on the World Championships in Athletics in Germany due to his affiliation with Scientology. Nonetheless, Corea cites his dedication to Scientology as inspiration for venturing into jazz fusion.
Corea’s accomplishments in jazz haven’t gone unrecognized, as seen via his 25 Grammy Awards wins. His delicate keyboard work helped pioneer a brand new style of softer and extra accessible jazz fusion. Most of all, Corea’s inspirational artistic spirit was based mostly on enjoyable moderately than sheer virtuosity.
His quite a few collaborations and playful innovation stemmed from his enjoyment of music — his parting phrases in a message posted to his Instagram account reads, “It’s not solely that the world wants extra artists, it’s additionally simply quite a lot of enjoyable.” Corea’s music serves to encourage listeners, musicians or not, to rediscover the enjoyment and function of their worldly pursuits.