Chick Corea's Spirit of Creativity
AAJ: It doesn't bother you that some people might say, 'He's not playing jazz,' when you go electric and get a little funkier?
CC: That's a pretty simple subject. A critic is a critic. Anyone has the freedom to be critical about whatever they want to be critical about. Everyone is free to their own opinions. Art is a subject that is inundated with opinions. In fact, that's all it is about is opinions. If you think about the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is absolutely true, then what one considers art or beautiful or valid or pure or correct or whatever you want to call it, is pure opinion. The only problem is when a critic tries to place himself in some position of authority, which is just some marked up authority, and it starts to look like law, what he says. This is when it gets a little silly. That kind of thing stopped bothering me a long, long time ago. I think that the world is made up of a lot of people and they all think differently, and they're welcome to it.
AAJ: How about a musician like Wynton Marsalis, who has a certain status and the media seems to hang on what he says. He's on TV a lot. Does it bother you that he is a bit dogmatic about what he thinks is jazz?
CC: I have a personal policy to not ever enter an arena like that. It's negative. I have one opinion on Wynton Marsalis. He's one of the most incredible trumpet players of the century. And that's it. Cause that's true. He's an incredible musician. I heard something by him the other day, in fact I decided I wanted to get this piece. Gayle [his wife] and I were listening to it on the radio. It's a piece of classical music that sounds like "Flight of the Bumble Bee" but it's not. It's some incredibly technical piece, but so beautifully rendered. It sounds like it's done in one breath. It sounds like part of the piece is circular breathing. It put my hair up on the back of my neck, and we said, 'We've got to find out who that is.' And at the end the announcer said it was Wynton Marsalis. And I said 'Good on you, Wynton, man, that's incredible.' I stay out of that other stuff. All it leads to is more of that other stuff.
AAJ: The direction that music is going, do you like what you see?
CC: I have a different opinion about the quote-unquote direction of music, and it's the direction of our society. You could list numerous people who you know, who have incredible aesthetic judgment, or they sing great or they can do something aesthetically, but have never developed the talent. Being an artist is something that's natural to every human being. So the direction of music in the future has all to do with how families and communities and nations and governments treat their artists and treat the whole subject of art.
The more it gets encouraged from society's point of view, the easier it will be, the more artists will participate and grow, the more schools there'll be, the more performances there'll be, the more music will be made and everything. That's an indication of a healthy culture. Music is only made and sold for money, which is the lowest motivation there could be. Not an illegal thing, to want money, but if that's your only motivation, that's not a very spiritual thing to do. I think it's a societal problem.
As you can tell, the styles today range all the way from far left to far right. You've got success with Tony Bennett and Dianna Krall in wonderfully accessible, genuinely high-quality music, and you've also got huge success from music from groups that actually have very negative messages and cause very negative effects on society. So you have the whole gamut of it. I don't know how to predict the future of music without trying to predict the future of our society.
I'm a scientologist, so I have a very positive outlook on life. The aims of scientologists are a world without criminality and without insanity where able people can prosper. This is a positive look at life. The way that operates in my life is that I feel that our future is something we can determine, not something that's some kind of destiny. If all of us that are concerned about the future of music and the future of art actually get busy doing something about it, I think we would achieve some positive results; getting some action going in the community, supporting some young artist - anything. Even devoting some time and energy to some young family member who shows interest in music. My encouragement is for all of us who love music and art to create our future and make it real positive, make it a new Golden Age.