Image featuring notable keyboardist Chick Corea

Honoring the Life of Chick Corea

Sarah Grunau
Music Journalist

Chick Corea, an elemental key to the evolution of jazz and jazz fusion has passed from a rare form of cancer at the age of 79. 

Corea strongly impacted the scope of jazz and introduced an improvisational element to the new arise of jazz fusion. Corea’s sudden passing was confirmed by family members on the Chick Corea facebook page on Thursday, February 11th. 

Corea has left an incredible mark on jazz artists, piano players and music fans alike. Before his passing, Corea left fans with an encouraging message.

“I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright,” said Corea. “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…”. 

Popular artists including John Mayer, and Cory Henry took to Instagram to honor the life of the notable keyboardist on Thursday evening.

Briefly after dropping out of school, Corea released his first album, Tones for Jone’s Bones. Corea made an immediate name for himself with his first debut album and went on to play with iconic jazz musicians such as Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. 

By 1971, Corea had founded a progressive, and increasingly improvisational jazz ensemble; Return to Forever. This eccentric band included Chick Corea as the keyboardist, bassist Stanley Clarke and various passing members. Return to Forever, achieved a unique sound that was new and unfamiliar. Although jazz artists were around before him, Corea put a twist on classic jazz with an exceptionally upbeat tone and improvisational notes.

Shortly after Return to Forever disbanded, Corea resumed his solo work. His modern and contemporary jazz sounds, garnered attention from fans, and audiences alike. Releasing popular albums such as Crystal Silence (1973) and Light as a Feather (1998), Corea grew to have a dedicated fan base, and continued to inspire people to get creative with music.

Releasing a new album nearly every year, Chick Corea stayed at the forefront of jazz piano with new and elusive songs. His last album, Plays (2020) contains a collection of songs played in various solo live shows from 2018. In Plays, Corea covers Mozart, honors the life of Thelonius Monk, and introduces a collection of children’s songs he wrote in the late 70s. 

Throughout his life and career, Corea relished in the freedom, and the fun that was had in creating something new. In a statement his family released on Facebook, Corea thrived in his ability to play the “games that artists do.” Chick Corea left an everlasting mark on the history of jazz fusion. Corea managed to inspire a new age of creativity, improvisation and imagination for future musicians. 

My recent Chick Corea playlist can be found on Spotify or linked below:

Featured Image Retrieved from Luciano Viti 

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