Jazz Great Asked His Fans to Play On

'It's a constant experiment,' Chick Corea said of his music
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 11, 2021 6:30 PM CST
Jazz Great Asked His Fans to Play On
Chick Corea performs in Moscow in 2017.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr., File)

Chick Corea, a towering jazz pianist with a staggering 23 Grammy Awards who pushed the boundaries of the genre and worked alongside Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, has died. He was 79, the AP reports. Corea died Tuesday of a rare form of cancer, his team posted on his website. On his Facebook page, Corea left a message to his fans: "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." A prolific artist with dozens of albums, Corea in 1968 replaced Hancock in Davis’ group, playing on the landmark albums In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. He formed his own avant-garde group, Circle, then founded Return to Forever. He worked on projects including duos with Hancock and vibraphonist Gary Burton. He recorded and performed classical music, standards, solo originals, Latin jazz, and tributes to great jazz pianists.

Corea, who lived in Clearwater, Florida, was named a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master in 2006. The one-time Juilliard dropout is the artist with the most jazz Grammys in the show's 63-year history, and he has a chance to posthumously win at the March 14 show, where he's nominated for best improvised jazz solo for "All Blues" and best jazz instrumental album for Trilogy 2. Last year, Corea released the double album Plays, which captured him at various concerts armed simply with his piano. "Like a runner loves to run because it just feels good, I like to play the piano just because it feels good," he said at the time. "I can just switch gears and go to another direction or go to another song or whatever I want to do. So it’s a constant experiment." Drummer Sheila E. took to Twitter to mourn. "This man changed my life thru his music and we were able to play together many times. I was very fortunate to call him my family,” she wrote. "Chick, you are missed dearly, your music and brilliant light will live on forever."

(More obituary stories.)

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