Chick Corea in Concert
The first time I saw Chick Corea was when he came to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall in the 90s. He was with his 'Elektric Band' and gave a performance that sounded very much like his CDs. The jazz solos were contained within a very tight well-rehearsed structure, seemingly filled with many starts, stops, and pauses (a rather crude way of describing the music I know, but the first words that came to mind). The audience sat in silence and listened, as if listening to a classical recital, and applauded politely at the end. Although the concert was very good, and the playing excellent, looking back I feel that much of the excitement and energy of the music was lost by the time it reached the rear balcony of the Symphony Hall.
The next time I saw Chick Corea was in a small jazz club in Japan. This time it was just piano, bass, and drums. Although I prefer larger ensembles I was curious to know how he would sound live without the support of other soloists. The answer: very good indeed.
At one point I remember him asking the audience what they wanted to hear next. Someone called out Spain – a classic tune from his album ‘Light as a Feather’– which surprisingly he dismissed and played something else instead. However, when it was time for his encore I realised why he had not played the earlier request – he was saving Spain until the very end.
I’m not interested in shaking hands with famous people for the sake of it, but with Chick Corea I was happy to meet him after the show, shake his hand, and thank him not only for his performance that evening, but also for his invaluable contribution to music over the years.