Chick Corea, a legendary musician, bandleader and composer whose talents bled into countless genres, died Feb. 11 at age 79.
His team announced his passing via his Facebook page last Thursday, revealing Corea succumbed to a “rare form of cancer” that had only been recently discovered.
The post included a parting quote from the musician:
“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.
“And to my amazing musician friends who have been like family to me as long as I’ve known you: It has been a blessing and an honor learning from and playing with all of you. My mission has always been to bring the joy of creating anywhere I could, and to have done so with all the artists that I admire so dearly — this has been the richness of my life.”
Corea was born in Chelsea, Mass., in 1941. He moved to Manhattan to study music at Columbia University before transferring to the Juilliard School, though he quit before graduating. He remained in New York City for a great portion of his life, much of which was spent in his home at 114-73 227 St. in Cambria Heights.
Though perhaps most well-known for jazz, Corea explored many different musical styles, such as classical, progressive rock and Latin. He had been playing piano in the new Spanish Heart Band, a flamenco-charged eight-man band of Latin rhythm masters at the time of his death. The group had a tour planned for late summer, which has now been canceled.
Over the course of his career, Corea recorded 81 studio albums and 17 live albums and had eight compilation albums. His plentiful work racked up a slew of awards, including 23 Grammies and the NEA’s Jazz Master endowment in 2006.
He played with various artists and in numerous groups, like The Miles Davis Band, Return To Forever and The Elektric Band.
“Flushing Town Hall expresses its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of NEA Jazz Master Chick Corea and to the jazz community at large. He was a cherished contributor to the rich, jazz history of our borough of Queens, alongside Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Heath, John Coltrane, and many other jazz legends,” Ellen Kodadek, FTH’s executive and artistic director, said in a statement.
Corea lives on through his wife, singer and pianist Gayle Moran, his children Thaddeus and Liana, and several grandchildren.
In addition to his physical legacy, Corea leaves behind a trail of inspiration to fellow musicians.
“He was an immense talent. He was able to play so many different genres, branching from Latin to bebop to fusion. He was also a really unbelievable composer,” said Joe Vincent Tranchina, a pianist who frequently plays at FTH’s Jazz Jam.
Tranchina recalled meeting Corea on several occasions and how down to earth the musician was despite his fame.
“I think Chick’s legacy is going to last forever,” Tranchina continued, noting that Corea’s passing came as a surprise: His sickness was kept under wraps, and Corea had been producing frequent content on his YouTube channel as recently as January. “It was an extremely sad day in the jazz world and in the music world.”