Chick Corea, Jazz Keyboardist and Innovator, Dies at 79

Chick Corea, Jazz Keyboardist and Innovator, Dies at 79

Chick Corea, Jazz Keyboardist and Innovator, Dies at 79

Chick Corea, Jazz Keyboardist and Innovator, Dies at 79

But he did not believe in musical categories. “It’s the media that are so interested in categorizing music,” he told The Times in 1983, “the media and the businessmen, who, after all, have a vested interest in keeping marketing clear cut and separate. If critics would ask musicians their views about what is happening, you would find that there is always a fusion of sorts taking place. All this means is a continual development — a continual merging of different streams.”

Mr. Corea’s first marriage ended in divorce. He met Gayle Moran, who became his second wife, in the 1970s, when he was in Return to Forever and she was a singer and keyboardist with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, another top-flight fusion band.

She survives him, as do a son, Thaddeus; a daughter, Liana Corea; and two grandchildren. In the early 1970s, Mr. Corea converted to Scientology, and the religion’s teachings informed much of his music from then on, including his work with Return to Forever.

Armando Anthony Corea was born on June 12, 1941, in Chelsea, Mass., near Boston. His father, also named Armando Corea, was a trumpeter and bandleader in Boston, and his mother, Anna (Zaccone) Corea, was a homemaker. He began studying piano when he was 4.

He picked up his nickname from an aunt, who often pinched his big cheeks and called him “cheeky.” The name morphed into the pithier “Chick.”

He moved to New York City in the late 1950s to study at Columbia University and Juilliard, but that lasted only a few months. As Miles Davis had a generation before, when Davis arrived at Juilliard from East St. Louis, Ill., Mr. Corea quickly found himself lured out of the classroom and into the clubs. Some of his earliest gigs came in the bands of the famed Latin jazz percussionists Mongo Santamaría and Willie Bobo, as well as with the swing-era vocalist and bandleader Cab Calloway.


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