Chick Corea: Creative Giant
AAJ: It takes a lot of courage, too.
CC: At the time, it didn't seem to take courage, because it was just a silly idea for me to try to do something that I wasn't interested in. I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to Herbie by saying, "Gee, thank you, Herbie, but I don't think I can do good doing this other thing, but I could do good doing this other thing that I got going." So I didn't think that it was courage at the time, but I guess it could be considered so, I don't know.
AAJ: There has been another reunion for you last year with the Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Blue Note, 1968) trio, with drummer Roy Haynes and bassist Miroslav Vitous.
CC: Yes, the spirit was very much the same, and that trio was kind of a chance that I took, because at the time. In '68 I was playing with Roy Haynes in the Stan Getz Quartet, and Steve Swallow was the bassist. I was enjoying that rhythm section a lot, but when I got the invitation to do a trio record I had met Miroslav Vitouš, and I thought what an interesting combination it would make to have Miroslav play bass with Roy, because they had different styles, and putting them together might be something interesting, And it turned out to be very interesting and it worked really well.
Roy Haynes was and has been a great inspiration to me my whole life, and to get to work with him with Stan Getz and then him being on my record was a big, big thrill back then. So Roy and I have kept pretty much a musical association going through the years; I have played in Roy's bands, and he has played on some of mine. We did a tour last year with Kenny Garrett and Christian McBride, The Freedom Band, and Roy is going to come and play with me some more this November at my Blue Note birthday gig; and also I played with Roy on his recent recording. So we have a long track record together. When we got to get together with Miroslav it was very joyful, and a lot of fun.
AAJ: In September 1968 you replaced Herbie Hancock in Miles Davis' band. What was it like recording and working with Miles? Did you have the notion that most younger musicians had, that "This is Miles Davis!," or were you relaxed about it?
CC: Well, I am never over the emotion about Miles, because I grew up with his music. There is a hand full of musicians that I grew up really taking the inspiration and the lead from, and it was Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. But Miles was the one that I got to meet and play with, finally, in 1968. Of course, like you said, for a young guy it was a thrill for me to do that, and it was a tremendous three years that I spent working with him. But what can I say? The best thing that Miles taught me was that level of strength and being true to yourself; because he took any chance with his music that he wanted to do, because that was the way that he saw to do it. And in the face of all kinds of criticism, or people who thought that he shouldn't do that or he should do something else, he did it anyway, and then he changed again and he made a different kind of music and they thought he shouldn't do that either.
Miles just kept going forward, pursuing the idea that he had, that he wanted to do. I was in a band with him when he was in a transition period, changing the form of the music all the time. The quintet that I played in was very loose and free music. It wasn't really determined yet what it would be, but Miles kept experimenting and he let the musicians create and the music that we played was quite wild, but it was beautiful, to me, anyway. So to me, Miles' courage in following his own dream was the biggest inspiration about him. But he is more than a person today, he is a legacy.
I have too many pictures in my memory to find one that I cherish more than others, but one of the later memories that I have was when I had a trio, before the Elektric Band, with John Patitucci and Dave Weckl, and it was an electric trio and we were playing a jazz festival; it was 1984 or something like that, and Miles was headlining. We played our set and Miles played his set. And then I went to this little cottage they had backstage, like a mobile home, and I wanted to say hello to Miles, and when I walked in the room, the room was filled with people, musicians and fans, and I hadn't seen Miles in years. He spotted me, and I was waiting for him to say hello to all these people, and then all of a sudden he chased all these people out of the place and I was about to leave, I thought he was mad or something. But he said, "No, no, come on back in," and I just hung out a little bit with Miles, and we talked; he liked to talk about clothing. He showed me some of his new jackets and shirts, and he admired the trio, and he liked what I was playing with John and Dave, and, in fact, he asked about one of the songs that we were doing. Miles always treated me very warmly, and I loved him to death.