When groundbreaking pianist Chick Correa died unexpectedly last February at the age of 79, he left a legacy of experimentation to preserve and expand the jazz tradition. In more than half a century, he deftly navigated the ever-changing boundaries of music. Correa began his career playing with Afro-Cuban percussionist Willie Bobo and spent time with bossa nova legend Stan Getz. His Appearance in Miles Davis’s “Bits Brew” dress, And later, his leading role in Return to Forever landed him a pivotal role in the origins of 1970s jazz fusion.
But Correa didn’t stop there, devoting himself straight to jazz trios and quartets; Pair with greats like Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett; out-of-the-box collaboration with bluegrass banjo player Bella Fleck; And even went on to play Mozart concertos with Bobby McFerrin. His long stint with the Electric band showed he never gave up on fusion, and his 2019 release, “Antidote”, recorded with an array of Spanish and Latin American musicians, marked his early exposure to Latin sounds. Renewed passion. During his career, he won 25 Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards and was nominated for over 60 others.
At Lincoln Center on Fridays and Saturdays, an all-star lineup of musicians who either played with or were heavily influenced by Korea will come together for concerts that re-imagine their classic compositions.
Bassist John Petitucci, a longtime member of Electric Band and Music, said, “Chick had this way of instilling in us that if someone is trying to define what jazz is or isn’t for you, So you don’t have to accept it.” The director of the show said in a phone interview. “He was extremely affirming with all of us, and he was funny — hysterically funny.”
The shows will be more than just a tribute; They will allow Korea’s allies to reclaim its energy, focused determination and generosity of spirit. In a recent interview, the five musicians – Reuben Blades, Bella Fleck, Christian McBride, Renee Rosnes, and Correa’s widow, Gail Moran, a singer and keyboardist who accompanied them until the end – discussed how they used to be with their colleagues while making music. How deeply connected with And the way he touched them personally. (All but Flake will attend the Lincoln Center event, which was postponed since January.) These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
How did Korea’s experiments in jazz fusion and eclecticism inspire you?
Christian MCBRIDE I think it’s the accepted narrative that, like, the quote wasn’t, “No jazz in the ’70s” and people like Chick, Herbie, Weather Report, George Duke turned their backs on jazz. I’m not quite sure how many critics and writers remember all of these great albums that Chick did other than their Return to Forever albums, which were great too. Whenever you got a group with people like Bill Connors and Al Di Meola, that was the pinnacle of Return to Forever. I mean, how could someone not like Flora Purim and Joe Farrell? [who played important roles on a few Return to Forever albums], That band was absolutely crystalline, everything they did was gorgeous.
Renee Rosnes His fusion playing – electric playing, whatever style you want to call it – was as harmoniously and rhythmically complex as all the music he wrote. It was not that nothing was suppressed. It was all beautiful, and from his individual mind. He remained curious, whether it was classical, bebop, Latin, electric, acoustic. He really had a limitless range and seemed fearless. He didn’t really care what anyone thought, what the critics thought, he would just go ahead and make the music he wanted to make.
bella flake It was all music to him. So I don’t know if there were too many lines between the different styles. In terms of Return to Forever, for me, I don’t think I would be doing anything if I hadn’t been for that band. In 1975, I saw him at the Beacon Theater and tried not to play the banjo the way I play. I didn’t have a flattone. Fusion has almost got a bad name or something, but if you go back to the original stuff, there was a lot of wit in this music. It wasn’t just rock with jazz. It was its own thing. It was really a fusion.
rubin blades Chick was always curious, and I think that is the real definition of an intellectual, an artist who is constantly curious. He collaborated with many different people and showed them in ways that might not have been obvious to them at the time, no matter how successful they were. It is impossible to take a holistic view of the opportunities he created to pursue music. He was just an incredibly curious and talented person.
Correa was unusually attentive to the way he worked with musicians, their generosity and advice. Can you talk about that?
Section He had a point of allowing everyone to do what they should have done, or what they should be doing, that is, themselves. The first time he came to play with me at the Flextones in Nashville, we did an interview and the idea of rules in music came up and he said something like: “Well, there are no rules. If there’s anyone out there who thinks there are no rules If so, I allow you to ignore them.” When we were at airports, you used to stand in a line and those would be obstacles, and he would always turn around and take them out so people didn’t have to stand in lines anymore.
McBride I was lucky enough to have played a lot with Chick along with Roy Haynes. Even though it was Chick’s band, he always held power with Roy. We went on the road with the Remembering Bud Powell Quintet in the summer of 1996 and I remember after rehearsing each arrangement, Chick would say something like, “Roy, is that cool?” You know, “Is that the right vibe?” And it made me love Chick even more because even though it was his band, he kept checking in with Roy Haynes to make sure everything was good.
Section Because I play with a wide variety of people, I’m asked, “How do you play it all?” And I say, “I really don’t. I just play like myself all the time, and it’s the people around me who change.” That was it, everything he did was a stamp of mine. I mean, is there some chick chorea thing you can hear that you might not know? It was within three or four notes. So it just had that language.
McBride Same with Foo Fighters.
rosiness Or even going back to the very beginning, you know, when he was playing with Mongo Santamaria, Cal Tjader, too — I mean, he still looked like himself.
Gail Morani He really wanted to be a better classical player, and he worked on it. He practiced Mozart over and over again. He told me more than once, “If I can practice 24 hours a day, maybe someday I’ll be a really good piano player.” he says that Me [laughs]Yes!
What kinds of things did Chick share about his influences and the musicians he played with?
morani I got this little family concert together because the doctor told me it wouldn’t be long. I did not tell this news to anyone – we were celebrating our upcoming anniversary. We all debuted the famous Miles tune “All Blues,” and it was really beautiful. And he very slowly raised his hand and said: “It’s so beautiful. Now I want to show you the basic arrangement that Miles taught me.” And he put his time and energy into teaching everyone – when does the melody come on? When does the piano come on? His eyes lit up while he was talking, and we played it and he gave everyone a thumbs up and, and we Had to do another concert the next night. He wasn’t strong enough. And then he had this next adventure.
McBride Chick loved Horace Silver very much, and I don’t think many people draw the line between Horace and Chick. He talked a lot about Horace and how much it influenced the structure of his writing. He was telling me about that story when he first joined the Blue Mitchell-Jr. Cook quintet, which was basically the old Horace Silver band, and he was like, man, I always feel like I really I’ve never been so great. playing the blues. I was like, Chick, I’m going to test you blindfolded, and I played a recording of him playing with Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook. And I said, this cat looks a lot like Wynton Kelly. And he’s like, yeah, he’s swinging. And then about like eight times, he went, wait a second — and I said, yeah, you can play a lot more blues. You are funky as hell, chick!
morani Oh, that’s great to hear, Christian. I heard him say that too. He didn’t think he could actually. Of course Miles gave him big compliments, and, and it just blew up Chick — it was his first gig with Miles, no rehearsals, no charts. Chick was getting a drink by the bar because he thought he hadn’t done so well. And then Miles whispers in his ear. I can’t say what word Miles used… but the chick is gone, oh my god. He was dancing around.
How did Chick affect your approach to music?
blade He was playing on Blue Note and I walked up to him and said hello. So Chick asked if I would like to do something with him. I didn’t know what I was going to do to fit into this thing. You know, he goes to Mars and he goes to Jupiter, a lot of places I don’t know how to go. And there is no direction. I had a great time with him, always respectful. It was so hard for me to call Tito Puente “Tito”, you know what I mean? Chick was the way he wanted to be called. I knew if I did “Pennies From Heaven” with a salsa band he wouldn’t immediately turn an eye. Immediately, he’ll go, oh, that’s great, you know?
rosiness He was so open, and his imagination knew no bounds. He wanted to cross all those lines, musically, playing anything else. It definitely inspired me in many ways, creatively as well as just playing the piano and improvising. I know that when I write, I don’t really think about what genre I’m writing in. I follow in his footsteps in having the whole world at your fingertips. He was also so focused all the time. I’m excited to play in the show One Piece “Eternal Child” because I heard it, but I never studied it. Such a beautiful creation.
morani Oh my, he wrote that in the middle of the night, Renee, I remember we were in LA trying to sleep and he just said, “I hear something.” And he had to get out of bed and go downstairs. And he said, when he wrote it down on paper on the piano, he was crying.
rosiness OK, this is beautiful. I consider Chick to be my eternal child. He has that soul. He had an email address at one point, something with “eternal child” in it.
blade When I recorded “Spanish Heart,” he sent me the song and I’m singing above the charts I was on, but I worked my vocals, and he said: “Oh, that’s great. Let’s do that. ” He felt a special attachment to that song. It was a great honor for me to do so. It was someone who called, talked to you, he will hurt you. He was always in touch. I don’t know how his heart was so big that he could handle all these things. I’m terrible at that. I love people, but I don’t tell them.
morani You listen to those songs and it sounds like a love song, and that’s what I thought it was. Once I said, “Oh sweetie, you wrote for me.” And he said, “Well, yeah, but it’s for them.” And he meant the audience, a love song for the audience. That’s how it ends, he says, “I give it all to you.”