In jazz, just as in life, some musicians have been blessed with a second name. These nicknames vary all across the board and are too numerous to list. Some musicians love their new titles, while others begrudgingly held on to them. For example, Diane Schuur is affectionately known as “Deedles,” Eddie Vinson’s nickname was “Cleanhead” due to his lack of hair, and Pepper Adams’ nickname was “The Knife” (for reasons unknown). One nickname found in jazz is Chick. Two musicians share this moniker: Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea, a famous jazz pianist/electric keyboardist and composer, and William Henry “Chick” Webb, a drummer. Today, we’ll talk about the pianist, and in a future episode, we’ll talk about “the Little Giant.”
Chick Corea was born in Massachusetts. His father was a jazz trumpeter who led a Dixieland band in Boston during the 1930s and 1940s. Chick was influenced by him as well as the other musicians he was exposed to and started learning the piano at age four. After being introduced to classical music as a youth, he went to college. After taking a few courses he abruptly abandoned formal training, but persuade his education by playing with local as well as national jazz musicians as they made their way through Gotham City.
Introduced him to the piano at the age of four. Surrounded by jazz, he was influenced at an early age by bebop and Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Horace Silver, and Lester Young. When he was eight, he took up drums, which would influence his use of the piano as a percussion instrument.
Corea developed his piano skills by exploring music on his own. A notable influence was concert pianist Salvatore Sullo, from whom Corea started taking lessons at age eight and who introduced him to classical music, helping spark his interest in musical composition. He also spent several years as a performer and soloist for the St. Rose Scarlet Lancers, a drum and bugle corps based in Chelsea.
Given a black tuxedo by his father, he started playing gigs when in high school. He enjoyed listening to Herb Pomeroy‘s band at the time and had a trio that played Horace Silver’s music at a local jazz club. He moved to New York City, where he studied musical education for one month at Columbia University and six months at the Juilliard School. He quit after finding both disappointing but remained in New York City.
Chick Corea is a Grammy-winning jazz musician.