Clearwater resident and jazz giant Chick Corea dead at 79

He passed on Feb. 9. from a rare form of cancer.

click to enlarge Chick Corea at St. Petersburg College Music Center in St. Petersburg, Florida on January 13, 2018. - CHRIS RODRIGUEZ
Chris Rodriguez
Chick Corea at St. Petersburg College Music Center in St. Petersburg, Florida on January 13, 2018.

Chick Corea, a jazz and composing giant who called Clearwater, Florida home, died on Feb. 9 as a result of a rare form of cancer, which his team said “was only discovered very recently.”

“Throughout his life and career, Chick relished in the freedom and the fun to be had in creating something new, and in playing the games that artists do,” a statement reads.

And it’s true.

Anytime Creative Loafing Tampa Bay interviewed him—including our October 2020 interview ahead of a Ruth Eckerd Hall performance—the 21-time Grammy-winner always had new projects to talk about and corny jokes to tell. He was supposed to play St. Petersburg’s Mahaffey Theater with Akoustic bandmates John Patitucci and Dave Weckl (who joined Corea at St. Petersburg College in January 2018), but the show was canceled.

In addition to Patitucci and Weckl, Corea's jaw-dropping list of collaborators included Miles Davis, Christian McBride, Brian Blade, Stan Getz, Herbie Mann L. Ron Hubbard and more.

Before forming his Elektric band Corea was part of a Davis band that helped move the legendary trumpeter towards the electrified, norm-busting sound on groundbreaking albums like Bitches Brew.

And despite his technical prowess, Corea’s playing—and candor with live audiences—never lost its humanity. When CL asked him about his uncanny ability to disarm crowds and set them at ease before diving into the heady material he always brought to the stage, Corea said it was hard to explain.

“It's just part of life. I don't know how I sense. Even me trying to explain that to you was very unusual,” he said. “It's just something I sense. Not just when I am playing for an audience. Like, when I speak to you or anyone. It's a matter of communication. The words and the sounds are going back and forth, but what's carrying the sounds and the words is an intention, and a feeling, and an emotion—you know what I mean? That's what I try and pick up on. I try and take the words and the notes and reach behind them to see what is really going on.”

This is a developing post.

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About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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