The extraordinary Chick Corea, the jazz musician whose influence on the musical world cannot be overstated, has died at the age of 79. Born in Massachusetts, he came from a household already steeped in jazz, his father a Dixieland trumpeter himself and he soon found his instrument of choice – the keyboard. Alongside Herbie Hancock, he rose to become perhaps the most influential jazz pianist of the post-war period, winning a remarkable 23 Grammy’s and nominated for over 60.
It’s perhaps no wonder that he became a giant of the jazz scene – he worked alongside some of the greatest names, from Stan Getz to Mongo Santamaria to, most famously, Miles Davis, appearing on seminal albums such as Bitches Brew. His innovative use of electric piano, incorporating ring modulation to heavily distort the sounds his instrument was able to make. He later formed Return to Forever, one of the cornerstones of the birth of jazz fusion as a concept, bringing in notable influences from Latin musical styles and a much more contemporary, funky sound.
Despite his huge recorded output, he relished live performance and toured until the very end, most frequently with the Chick Corea Elektric Band, though he also favoured the stripped down trio and even turned to classical composition in later life. A Scientologist from the late 60s, his music was influenced by his beliefs and his views led to some promoters being uneasy about booking him. His legacy can be heard in so many musicians who dare to cross the boundaries of genre and merge them together.