On Tuesday, death was absent from American pianist Chick Corea, the legend of jazz, at the age of 79, after an artistic career during which he took jazz towards a more liberal and open form that formed a mixture with other musical genres.
According to a statement published by the late artist’s team on his Facebook page, Thursday, Corea died of a rare type of cancer “that was only discovered a very short time ago.”
The statement stated that he wrote before his death a message saying: “I want to thank everyone who helped light the torch throughout the journey.”
“I hope that those who want to play, write and participate in a work of art will be able to do it. If it is not for themselves, it is for us. Not only because the world needs more artists, but because that is more fun,” he added.
Playing before knowledge
Chick Corea was a composer and pioneer in electrical and electronic keyboards, and along with Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett was one of the most influential pianists of the twentieth century. His “Spin” and “500 Miles High” or “La Fiesta” pieces became classics.
Corea, who came from the US state of Massachusetts, is the son of a trumpeter in the field of jazz, and he learned to play the piano before he mastered reading, then he learned to play drums at the age of eleven.
After high school, he joined Columbia University in New York in 1959, but decided to leave the academic path and devote himself to music after watching trumpeter Miles Davis and saxophonist John Coltrane in a jazz club.
His first solo records date back to the end of the 1960s, with the most prominent being “Ise”, which was characterized by improvisation.
And in the fall of 1968, Corea replaced the famous pianist Herbie Hancock during a concert in Baltimore for the band founded by Miles Davis. “Play the simplicity of what you hear,” Davis told him that day. Corea later said, “It liberated me because I was used to playing improvisational music.”
The two established a more liberal type of jazz, without pre-rehearsals, that featured each musician performing the piece in his own way.
With Chick Corea, Miles Davis recorded some of his major records, most notably “Beaches Pro” (1970) which was a pivotal point in liberating jazz from its strict rules and opening it to other styles, particularly rock.
This experience marked the birth of what is known as “jazz fusion”, a style that mixes jazz with influences from other genres including rock, funk, and blues.
In 1971, Jarrett established his own band “Return to Forever” to continue his musical adventure, and during his career he won no fewer than 23 Grammy Awards, the American Music Industry Awards, the last of which was in 2019.
The statement, published Thursday, stressed that “Cheek was, throughout his life and career, feeling happy, free and happy to invent something new.”
The musician added in his message: “My mission has always been to provide the joy of creativity wherever I can, and the richness of my life is that I have done so with all the artists I love so much.”