Feb 9, 2021: Chick Corea, Legendary Jazz Composer and Keyboardist, Dies

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Chick Corea, in an undated photo via his Facebook page

Chick Corea, a 23-time Grammy Award-winning jazz composer and keyboardist, died February 9, 2021, of cancer, in Tampa, Fla. The news of his passing was shared on his Facebook pageThe complete post follows:

It is with great sadness we announce that on February 9th, Chick Corea passed away at the age of 79, from a rare form of cancer which was only discovered very recently. Throughout his life and career, Chick relished in the freedom and the fun to be had in creating something new, and in playing the games that artists do.

He was a beloved husband, father and grandfather, and a great mentor and friend to so many. Through his body of work and the decades he spent touring the world, he touched and inspired the lives of millions.

Though he would be the first to say that his music said more than words ever could, he nevertheless had this message for all those he knew and loved, and for all those who loved him:

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

This ad appeared in the March 1, 1975 issue of Record World

“And to my amazing musician friends who have been like family to me as long as I’ve known you: It has been a blessing and an honor learning from and playing with all of you. My mission has always been to bring the joy of creating anywhere I could, and to have done so with all the artists that I admire so dearly—this has been the richness of my life.”

Watch Corea and Bobby McFerrin perform “Spain,” one of Corea’s signature compositions

Armando Anthony Corea was born on June 12, 1941, in Chelsea, Mass., and began playing the piano at age four. By high school, he was performing gigs but it wasn’t until the early 1960s that his professional career began to take off. He served as a sideman for several major jazz musicians and released his first solo album, Tones for Joan’s Bones, in 1966. Taking to the electric piano, he joined Miles Davis’ band in the late ’60s and could be heard on several of the trumpeter’s landmark recordings, among them In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew.

Related: Another great jazz pianist, Keith Jarrett, was recently felled by a stroke

In 1972, Corea released his album Return to Forever, which used both electric and acoustic instrumentation. The band he formed using the same name, which featured a revolving membership, the only constants being Corea and bassist Stanley Clarke, became a leader of the jazz fusion movement, alongside such outfits as the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report. Corea continued to release solo albums as well as collaborations with others, among them vibraphonist Gary Burton.

A restless musician, Corea continually explored different avenues: His 1976 album My Spanish Heart, for example, revealed his Latin side most fully, while later in his career Corea would record duet sets with such artists as banjoist Béla Fleck, Japanese pianist Hiromi and the American vocalist Bobby McFerrin. Other later excursions included his Elektric Band and an Akoustic Band trio. His Five Peace Band included guitarist John McLaughlin.

Watch Corea with Return to Forever

Related: Musicians we lost in 2021

Corea’s recordings are available to purchase in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here.

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  1. JCB
    #1 JCB 12 February, 2021, 09:52

    He was one of the greatest pure musicians to ever live. Always surrounded by giants, like Jaco Pastorius, Gayle Moran, Airto, Alex Acuna, Paco deLucia, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, Al Dimeola and so many others. Got to see him many times over many decades. Wish it had been more. RIP Chick.

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