I first encountered Chick Corea in 1975. I had moved to Albany, NY, for a job in the State Assembly. I’m not sure how I first heard it, but “Vulcan Worlds” from the “Where Have I Known You Before” album by Return To Forever featuring Chick Corea became my song. Written by the band’s bassist, Stanley Clarke, it makes sense I would love it!
My wife and I went to see RTF at Russell Sage College in Troy. We arrived a bit early and walked to a store to get some soda (obviously Coke in my case). The concert started just as we were walking toward the auditorium through fog and mist. I loved hearing the first notes of Vulcan Worlds as we approached and settled into our seats! It was magic, and the concert did not disappoint!
We went to see Chick Corea perform duets with Herbie Hancock at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (or SPAC). Herbie introduced a song by saying they were going to make their pianos talk to each other. It was thrilling. We couldn’t hear the precise words, but it was a conversation in every way.
The next morning, I took a flight to NYC, and guess who was on the plane? Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea!! I got to tell them how much I enjoyed the concert the night before, especially the conversation between the pianos. I’ll always carry the smile on Chick’s face with me!
There was also a duet concert at SPAC featuring Chick and Gary Burton. When they came back out after a standing ovation following the set, Chick said something like, “Encore? What should we play?” My friend Reggie and I, without prompting or coordination, both stood up in our second-row seats, cupped our hands over our mouths, and shouted, “SPAIN“ at the top of our lungs! Maybe we weren’t the only ones (we were first!!), and perhaps that was the obvious choice, but our very loud wishes came true.
We saw different RTF incarnations when we lived in NYC and saw Chick in San Francisco and twice here in Seattle. I subscribed to his online instruction channel for awhile.
Even though I saw Chick Corea perform live on many occasions, it’s his recorded music that reverberates through my being after years of incessant listening. I loved and will continue to love his many recordings, including new music I’m just discovering.
It has been wonderful to read all the thoughtful reflections on his life as a musician, friend, and person. There are a lot of lessons there. He lived a great life, one that can inspire all of us to live our lives to the fullest and to help others along the way. I love that idea.
Thanks for the music and your life of inspiration, Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea. RIP as you return to forever.
Note: #JazzChurch 42 episode (2/14/2021) featured some of Chick Corea’s music and performances that have resonated with me over the years.