I remember the final days of 2020 when we all thought that things can only get better in 2021. So far, we’ve lost my mother-in-law at the very beginning of this year. Also, Mary Wilson left us recently and now it was time for Chick Corea to pass on.
My earliest memory of hearing the music of Chick was on his 1977 Return To Forever LP “Musicmagic” (I bought this album in the early 80s) which opens with the still fascinatingly rich “The Musician” with Gayle Moran on vocals and Chick playing all kinds of keyboards like the Fender Rhodes, Mini Moog, Polymoog, ARP, and Clavinet. The album also includes the brilliant “Hello Again”, a composition by Stanley Clarke which is both soothing and stirring with its brash brass arrangement. I soon discovered a totally different side of Chick’s music: his 1983 ECM LP “Lyric Suite For Sextet” features him with Gary Burton and a string quartet and leads you into a totally different world. Mysterious, calming, and utterly, poignantly moving music. He played music from this album in a duo set with Gary the last time I saw him live at New York’s Blue Note in November 2016. Chick was a regular guest on the European concert circuit and played Berlin so many times, in concert halls and theaters, in clubs and churches.
And there was so much more to discover: I’m still mesmerized by the beauty of his “Children’s Songs”, recorded for ECM in 1984, but he already started this back in 1972 on the first Return To Forever LP and a year later on his duo record with Flora Purim. Or the crazy and mixed-up trio album “Trio Music” (ECM, 1982), with improvisations with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes as one part of the album and the music of Monk on the second side. This was actually my introduction back in 1982 to the music of Thelonious Monk.
There is so much more to explore: his classic side, his Elektric Band, his tandem with Bobby McFerrin, his group Origin. I’m also a huge fan of his 1985 ECM LP “Voyage” where he teamed up with flutist Steve Kujala. He leaves us here with an amazing, prolific work of art.