Jazz and Complexity (Ode to Chick Corea)

Chick Corea and I at Blues AlleyI had the good fortune of attending the Chick Corea solo piano gig on April 9, 2014 at Blues Alley in Washington, DC.   I had been eagerly awaiting the evening since I am a Chick Corea aficionado.  I was not disappointed! See the nice Washington Post article by Michael J. West on the previous day’s concert.  In the following days, I reflected upon what makes me like his playing so much, and of course, I came to the conclusion that it was its “complexity”…

Really? Precisely!  Jazz is an exercise in complexity where many factors influence one another – the definition of complexity itself – to produce music that resonates as beauty in the listener’s mind.  First there is the score, guiding the player’s brain through the composition.  But somewhere, the jazz musician improvises, and lets the brain “fill in’ and elaborate on the basic road-map.  The current mood and the days events surely affect this improvisation phase.  Familiar themes may surface and are recalled, feeding into the stream of notes seemingly unconnected, progressing the score.  The audience reacts.  Chick’s brain provides instructions to his fingers, keeping rhythm and applying just the right force to each key.   The sound of the particular piano is interpreted in the payer’s brain, further affecting the playing.

Chick Corea, in my opinion, does it better than anyone else.  He has amazing technique and impeccable rhythm.  He weaves his own themes into each piece in intricate, surprising  and beautiful ways,  he interprets scores in creative fashion, and he remains faithful to the original piece.  He performed two amazing and difficult Thelonious Monk compositions that day, and graciously posed for a memorable photograph with me!  Thank you, Chick Corea 🙂

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