Our Director of Programming, Pelin Opcin, shares her memories in tribute to Chick Corea
We are deeply saddened by the loss of a true genius. Chick Corea was a pioneer paving the way to innovation and endless horizons in jazz. In his prolific career, spanning almost 60 years, he always set the tone with his unique sound, energy, passion, versatility and collaborative approach. His never-ending appetite for discovering and empowering young musicians, and countless projects he collaborated with other giants of jazz, always opened our ears and eyes to infinite possibilities in music.
When I joined Serious in 2018, we were in ongoing working relationship with Chick. A vast chronology of work dating back to late 1980s included touring the Elektric Band and the Akoustic Band and later Origin. He always loved touring and playing live, and was particularly keen on supporting young musicians - Gwilym Simcock and Tim Garland were just two of the British artists he worked with and enthused about.
Through the EFG London Jazz Festival and other concerts, he played special collaborations with Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin and Bela Fleck, and in a great trio with Christian McBride and Brian Blade, as well as performing completely solo or revisiting his classic partnership with Gary Burton.
His Spanish Heart show in Love Supreme 2019 was one of the most beautiful, high-energy performances of him I ever witnessed. I did not know then that it was the last time I saw him on stage… These moments hold more meaning than the deep experience you have at that time, but you do not realise how they would amplify even more when you hear such sad news, like the one I received last night. Is that how one lives eternally?
My earlier memories of Chick Corea shapes around that one line which starts writing the history of Istanbul Jazz Festival. I wonder if he knew that his first Istanbul concert in 1984 was planting the seeds of a new festival to be born 10 years after his first visit. That very Festival, which I worked for 21 years, gave me loads of opportunities to hear his music, be present in his aura. I met wonderful (then) young artists like Jeff Ballard and Avishai Cohen thanks to his vision for generating space for new voices. I spent three thrilling Istanbul days with Origin in 1998. I heard countless notes from his keys, from Freedom Band to his eccentric symphony he performed for Mozart’s 250th in magical Hagia Irene Church. The impeccable duo with Stanley Clarke still echoes in my ears.
Chick Corea’s music and legacy will live forever. Whenever we “return” to it, it will be a step forward.
Pelin Opcin - Director of Programming, Serious