Note: This episode originally aired Aug. 22, 2019. We've updated it in the wake of pianist Chick Corea's death on Feb. 9, 2021.
Pianist Chick Corea has lived many lives as a musician, from post-bop wunderkind to free-jazz maverick to fusion explorer to chamber-jazz eminence. That imprecise tally leaves out a lot in an expansive career — but, more to the point, it creates the false impression that Corea compartmentalizes his musical output, when the truth suggests something far more holistic.
Jazz Night in America caught up with Corea during a recent gig at Scullers in Boston — just across the river from Chelsea, Mass., where he was born and raised. He was on tour with a new trio he calls Vigilette, with Carlitos Del Puerto on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums. The set list combined songbook standards like "On Green Dolphin Street" with originals like "Rhumba Flamenco," each number delivered with Corea's brand of articulate flair.
A few days after the performance, Corea sat down with Christian McBride — our host, and his longtime musical collaborator — for a collegial and far-ranging conversation. They discuss the first time Corea saw Miles Davis, an experience that changed his life, and one he recalls with absolute detail. Corea also reflects on the role of an artist: "We have a mission to go out there and be an antidote to war, and all of the dark side of what happens on Planet Earth," he says. "We're the ones that go in and remind people about their creativity."
Chick Corea (piano), Carlitos Del Puerto (bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums)
Producers: Trevor Smith, Alex Ariff, Niki Walker; Katie Simon; Recording Engineer: Antonio Oliart; FOH Engineers: Matt Hayes, Bernie Kirsh; Concert Mix Engineer: Antonio Oliart; Concert Video Director: Niki Walker; Concert Videographers: Jason Lachapelle, Maureen McNamara, Niki Walker; Concert Editors: Colin Marshall, Niki Walker; Project Manager: Suraya Mohamed; Senior Producers: Colin Marshall, Katie Simon; Supervising Editors: Keith Jenkins, Lauren Onkey; Executive Producers: Gabrielle Armand, Anya Grundmann, Amy Niles; Special Thanks: Tessil Collins, Stephen Eckelberry, Jan Mullen, Scullers Jazz Club and WGBH,; Funded In Part By: The Argus Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts, Wyncote Foundation