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Remembering Chick Corea one year later.

Chick Corea died a year ago today. He and Keith Jarrett were the gods of jazz piano for me. I could probably name 150 plus pianists who have directly influenced my playing, and I could tell you what I learned from each. Keith is out of action, having had two strokes a few years back, and Chick died rather suddenly of a rare form of Leukemia last February 9th. I was surprised to find myself distraught at his passing. He had been practicing/teaching/shmoozing online for many months, almost every day during the pandemic. It was like free piano lessons for me. He'd just practice and occasionally address the viewers in his decidedly Boston accent- "I'm working on this Scahlatti Sonaata", or "Here's where I really have to practice the fingering to get this tune right." He'd try it, and if he flubbed it (rare), he'd try it again on camera. And he'd play with that mathematically swinging technique of his. Chick really invented a new harmonic language in jazz, and beyond jazz. He was a prolific composer, pianist, touring around the world and always busy creating. He was generous, bringing pianists known or unknown out of audiences to improvise duets in large concert halls. He was great at what he did, but he wasn't high and mighty about it. His teaching manner was collegial and helpful and revelatory. I saw him play many times in clubs, and concert halls. I never saw his playing be "off." His angular melodic lines, his chords that once sounded dissonant to me, but now sound like "Chick Corea chords" were always available to him. He championed new ideas in post bebop, and free styles, and latin music, including flamenco, and he practically invented Fusion. His rhythmic ideas and rhythmic skill were incredible. Fantastical, but always neat and clean. Skills that I just keep practicing to get anywhere near him. Even if I don't, his example has made me always reach for a higher bar. Thanks, Chick!

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I just had a phone conversation with an old friend, an older man who has Parkinson's. He used to do comedy and comedy writing, and he's a witty fellow. He got diagnosed with Parkinson's 20 years ago.

Okay, maybe I'd rather have skipped the pandemic and not improved my playing, or better yet, skipped the pandemic and still improved. Yeah, that'd be best of all. But here I am. Lockdown, Chick Corea'

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