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Chick Corea

By Published: October 30, 2004
AAJ: A lot of people have a real problem with electric jazz, preferring the acoustic stuff. What if you scored this same music for a classical ensemble, with cellos, etc.? Do you think it would get more respect?

CC: Let's get a few rules straight in art. Let's go down to basics. Let's say a truth, which is that everyone has his own viewpoint about what beauty is. What that means to me is not every individual is gonna have the same opinion about what he likes and doesn't like. So for me the first rule of art, you could call it a human right, is that every individual is free to appreciate the world around him in the way he sees, and no one's wrong. This guy likes electric music, this guy likes acoustic music, cool on both of them! I think this music is getting a tremendous reception everywhere we go.

AAJ: Many critics and jazz connoisseurs turn their noses up at fusion, but the public seems to love it.

CC: You know what I do with critics? Not just professional ones but amateur ones, like my aunt. I ignore them.

AAJ: Maybe that's best way, unless there is someone who has criticism that can help you.

CC: Naahhh! You can print that.

AAJ: One of my favorite groups was the trio with Roy Haynes and Miroslav Vitous. It's exquisite stuff. Do you ever plan to reprise that trio?

CC: I think it's mostly finished. We had a birthday reunion in 2001. I put Roy Haynes back with Miroslav and we played two really fun nights together at the Blue Note. In fact the tune "Matrix" that we recorded newly at the Blue Note after so many years one a Grammy for best instrumental solo!

AAJ: Let's talk about Circle. It seems to me that was a direction you went in and decided not to go further.

CC: Circle was a great, great band. I had a ball. We played for a year-and-a-half. Dave and I had a very strong musical connection and we were pursuing a way of improvising that was very invigorating to me at that time. All what happened to me was, we performed a lot, my mind was changing and I wanted to try some different stuff, and so I did. I wanted to make a different kind of music. Dave and Anthony and Barry wanted to continue with Circle, and so it was an amicable parting.

Have you heard the new record?

AAJ: Yes! But can I ask you about your classical influences? What about Messiaen?

CC: Sure, I love Messiaen. I like to listen to a lot of stuff and let it all creep in.

AAJ: After Circle dissolved, you made a statement that you wanted to go back to the musical forms that you originally loved. I hear a lot of Latin influence in your later work, including the new record. Is this an early influence that you left and returned to?

CC: In high school I began to play in Latin bands. I was always attracted to Latin rhythms, Spanish-speaking musicians, and when I got to New York one of my first big gigs was with Mongo, and still to this day I really feel that the Latin cultures are kind a of a basis with me, I connect with it a lot. But when I put musicians together I try to piece together the music that seems to fit the message. That's what I did with "To the Stars." I put together all kinds of elements that seemed to fit what I was after to tell the story in the book.

AAJ: Can you talk about the book?

CC: This is the last of approximately 250 fiction novels that Hubbard wrote in the 30s and 40s. he was one of the most popular pulp writers during that era. He really turned out the stories. I became an intense fan of his early on, first with his book "Dianetics" and what he wrote on Scientology, but then later on with his fiction work. I've been through this book eight or nine times. This was one of the last books he wrote in '49 before going completely into the development of Dianetics and Scientology. Later, toward the end of his life in the 80s, he wrote "Battlefield Earth" and "Mission Earth," two amazing books, but I kept coming back to "To the Stars." It has as one of its themes what is referred to as "the time dilation theory" by Einstein, which says that when a body, in this case a space ship with people on it, travels close to the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second, this time phenomenon happens, where, for the people on the ship time starts reducing to zero, whereas on Earth time keeps moving forward, so they go out on a journey for a couple weeks or a month and when they return to Earth a couple hundred years have passed. The story is about what happens when these people on these trips, called "the long passage," return to Earth.

AAJ: Check Blast" feels like this big surge of speed and energy needed to escape Earth's gravity.

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