R.I.P. Chick Corea (1941 – 2021)

Armando Anthony ‘Chick’ Corea, who passed away, much too early, on February 9th, aged 79, will always be remembered for being an outstanding pianist and keyboarder, winner of 23 Grammy awards, as well as the man who wrote the song ’Spain’. For me Chick means so much more than this: his music was a big part of the soundtrack of my life ever since my friend Ewald Volk introduced me to ‘Return To Forever’ in 1973. I had heard about him being part of Miles Davis’s group in the late 1960’s, but until then not followed up. The ease with which he switched from straight ahead jazz to fusion and Latin was not heard of before, his compositions outstanding and played by many other musicians throughout his career. For me it was beside RTF the album ‘My Spanish Heart’ and the duo recordings with Herbie Hancock that really touched me. The music with Gary Burton is as well incredible and so are the albums he did with classical musicians like Friedrich Gulda and Nicolas Economou. ‘The Children Songs’ then became one of my favourite Corea albums of all time and not to forget ‘Play’, one the albums he recorded with Bobby McFerrin … In 1992 Chick started Stretch Records for his releases, having them distributed by Concord shortly after that. That’s when I met him for the first time and started to work on his releases via Concord, which had a distribution deal with Universal Music, for whom I did global jazz marketing at the time. We talked a lot about how to utilise his vast catalogue better, as Universal was now holding most of his music and we worked on the marketing of the new recordings, of which the solo piano albums are still my favourites. Chick invited me to the opening of the Blue Note in Milano in 2003 and we discussed the release of a project he had done with Philips Electronics – the surround sound recording of a series of shows at the Blue Note in New York, featuring a lot of special guests. I signed this project on to license from his label for global release and this album, ‘Rendezvous In New York’ feels a bit like a snapshot of Chick’s career, featuring the crème de la crème of improvised music: Bobby McFerrin, Roy Haines, Miroslav Vitous, Christian McBride, Joshua Redman, Terence Blanchard, Gary Burton, John Patitucci, Dave Weckl, Steve Wilson, Avishai Cohen, Jeff Ballard, Tim Garland, Steve Davis, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Eddie Gomez, Steve Gadd and Michael Brecker. What a wonderful recording!!! Whenever possible I saw Chick and his manager Bill Rooney on tour, we had dinners or lunches together or just chatted a bit.  Once he did send me a new iPod, the so-called ‘Chickpod’ with a little video message on it … and when I got married in July 2007, he did send a little song, ‘Wulf’s Wedding Song’, from wherever he was at the time on tour … something my wife and I value a lot. That year he released, only in Japan, a box set with 4 different piano trios – simply outstanding! And he followed that up with a trio featuring Christian McBride and Brian Blade – both double albums of this band Trilogy are among the best of his tremendous output. And so is the final album he released, 2019’s ‘The Spanish Heart Band – Antidote’, a powerful reminder of his love for Flamenco, which he has shown many times before while collaborating with guitarist Paco De Lucia. I saw the Spanish heart Band at the 2019 North Sea Jazz Festival and it was one of the best shows of that weekend – and it was the last time I saw Chick as well … he will be missed by many, but never forgotten. R.I.P

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