In 2011 I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Chick Corea, who I have followed since he first emerged in the 60’s. I can’t describe how much I have learned from listening to him, studying him, transcribing him, and playing his music. I think he is the most lasting influence on my piano playing. Harmonically, melodically, pentatonics, and especially rhythm and a latin influence are lasting effects.
We talked piano a bit. His hands are very strong, more like a car mechanic than artist. He mentioned remembering about being a kid and seeing the symmetry at a keyboard. I’d forgotten that there is a mirror symmetry at two points, D and Ab. If you can do something in your RH, you can execute it in exact LH spatial mirror symmetry by observing this.
We mentioned Bartok, and since Chick was once quoted admiring Henri Dutilleux, I brought up the fact that I have all his orchestral scores, and have spent much time studying them. Dutilleux has an uncanny way of taking abstract atonal concepts, and turning them into engaging and expressive human soul-touching music. In much the same way, Chick is very expressive in this regard.
Chick talked about how he stays in this “other” world where his mind is always lost in musical thought. He says sometimes he only comes out to do things like check an airline reservation, or do his taxes. Haha. I understand this, and have been working ever since on understanding that creative people must learn to limit input, and find this place in themselves to stay true to the self. This is so important.
I did a tribute to Chick a few years back, and am thinking of doing it again with more of his music.