Chick writes from Chile, the first stop on his extensive South American tour with The Vigil. Here he corresponds with Diego Fischerman, from Clarin newspaper in Argentina, where the band plays next week.
You are one of the last, if not the last, pianists who had created a language on the acoustic piano, and, of course, on electric keyboards. Also, you have been a kind of touchstone for a lot of musicians over the last four decades. So, what’s your point of view about what happened through those decades? Then, is jazz, yet, in the hands of the great masters of the ’60s?
The World of Music is alive and in good hands. Young musicians and artists all over the world are creating new things all the time. Our social systems have altered and changed probably for the worse. Music is a social phenomenon – always has been. The spirit of Creativity is always alive in us. How friendly our social environments are to allow this creativity to flourish, though, is the real question. So, in the final analysis, “jazz” or any artistically creative activity is “in the hands of” all of us who create societies and environments. So the more of us who support and participate in the “Arts” the healthier our environments will be and the pleasanter our lives will be.
The Vigil reividicates, timbrically, the sound and the aesthetics of jazz rock. The composition concept, however, is, absolutely new. Why did you choose this sound and how match, for you, this “old bottles and new wine”?
I don’t so much choose “sounds” as I choose inspiring musicians to make music with. It’s no different with my new band Vigil. These young musicians are inspiring to me. I learn from them each night as we travel and play. All is kept fresh and alive this way!
You have played in very different contexts, from intimist trios to furious electronic groups and from free jazz to very popular forms. However, your music sounds always like Chick Corea Music. What is, in your opinion, the essence of individuality in jazz?
Each of us has a responsibility to live by the standards we set for ourselves. Too much agreement with “trends” and “styles” dampens new ideas from emerging. To set one’s personal standards high is the first step – but the next step is equally, maybe more, important – and that is to carry one’s intention through and not be set back by barriers and stops. You could call it “artistic integrity” or just plain “persistence”. In any case this may be the quality of “individuality in jazz” you’re speaking about.
You have played with the most important musicians of the recent jazz history, from Stan Getz or Miles Davis and Anthony Braxton. Can you tell me something about your experiences, in terms of musical learning?
My personal successes have always been the result of following my true interests – of allowing myself to be interested in what I’m truly interested in – and then going ahead and learning more about it, increasing my abilities gradually as I go. My “secret” is I’m always the Student not the teacher others assume I am. I have always tried my best to find the company of artists and musicians of great ability and creativity – and to work for them and with them – and to observe how they accomplish what they do – and to learn to apply that to my own life. This approach has worked well for me.
Can you tell me something about your particular encounter with Paco de Lucía and flamenco music?
Paco is an artistic phenomenon. He helped bring to life an important connection between the jazz music and his own flamenco music tradition. I was happy to be a part of this by becoming friends with Paco and learning much from him about his approach to music. In our several precious projects together, I was greatly inspired by Paco and the depth of his expression with music. I owe him a lot.
You have played in Piazzolla’s tributes and, in some of your works, one can hear some tango flavour. Did Piazzolla influenced you in some way? If yes, could you explained that?
The great Astor Piazzolla opened many musical doors for me and so many musicians who were touched by this music and the emotional intelligence of his compositions. At one point I was invited to write music for a tango movie. I took the opportunity to study tango music – including the music of Piazzolla and Carlos Gardell. During this study, I composed about 15 original tangos. Unfortunately the producer kept wanting the sound of a particular classic tango–the recording of which he kept playing for me. After a while I suggested that he just use that specific recording for his movie and went ahead and used some of my original tangos on my own recordings and live performances.
Thank you very much for your attention.
You’re welcome and thanks for your interest and the interview.
Best wishes – Chick Corea