Chick Corea and I became very close in the 1960s after I first saw him playing in Harlem with Blue Mitchell. Chick was a true modest genius. We had so many incredible jam sessions together over the years and my memories of him haven’t stopped flooding in since hearing of his passing.
Chick lived with my family for a while back in Brooklyn and would babysit my daughter, Jennifer. He was godfather to both of my daughters and I gave piano lessons to both of his children. We travelled to Israel and Japan together. My wife Susan had been his manager for some time.
I remember him sitting in on drums with my trio, if you can imagine that!
We learned from each other. One time I did a jazz recording in Boston which he heard and told me that he saw how I utilized the bottom of the piano and that he was going to incorporate that into his own playing. I learned so much from his playing, his sense of time and articulation. Then there was the time Chick broke his finger playing basketball with a concert the next day in Santa Barbara. He asked me to play piano on that gig which gave me some very big shoes to fill!
Chick was a true chameleon. I remember him coming with me to watch Bowie tour rehearsals when I was David’s music director and pianist. He absorbed the music we were playing and I could hear some of our rock influences appearing on his later Return to Forever recordings.
There were very few limits to Chick’s wide window of music. His contribution to music will be everlasting. For him, it was all about creating and his love for the pure joy of making music. Anyone listening to him play felt that.
Chick produced my first solo jazz album Avant Garson. I recorded my next album, Jazzical back in 1980 at Chick’s Mad Hatter Studios in Los Angeles. On that album was a piece I composed called Melancholy with a wonderful jazz trio – Abe Laboriel Sr. on bass and Alex Acuña on drums. Chick walked up to me in the studio asking if he could sit in on the song – right in the middle of recording! I was shocked and flattered. He said he could hear a Moog synthesizer on the track which he proceeded to play with us.
You can hear his unique and undeniable sound on this long lost track as the album was only out for a short time before the record label owner passed away. I had lost the master tapes of this album in the fire a few years ago but just found a recording of this song. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Thank you, Chick…