Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Chick Corea, pianist (II)

In Novermber 2010, I interviewed the jazz pianist Chick Corea by telephone for the Japan Times. Chick was in a hotel in Los Angeles. This is the first 13 or 14 minutes of a 20-minute interview.

CC: Hello.

CBL: Uh, hullo, is that Chick?

CC: It is.

CBL: Hi. This is Colin Liddell, uh, phoning from Tokyo…

CC: Yes.

CBL: …on behalf of the Japan Times, coz, uh, you'll be coming here pretty soon.

CC: That's right.

CBL: Em, yeh, I, uh, heard you, you've just sort of woken up or would be sleeping at around this time.

CC: No, no, that's, that's… I've been up for about five hours.

CBL: Oh, OK, that was, uh, a misunderstanding then.

CC: Yeh.

CBL: It sounded like you'd been very busy.

CC: No, it's the busy part. I was busy all morning.

CBL: Uhu. Could I, could I ask you what you were busy doing?

CC: Yeh, I'm busy setting up my composing, uh, uh, keyboards here in my hotel room, so that I can, uh, so that I can meet…eh, y'know, do some composing that I need to do.

CBL: Uhu, em, what sort of shape or direction is that taking?

CC: Well, uh, many different things. I have, uh-hu, projects… Well, first of all, I'm writing, uh, and arranging some music for the trio coming to Japan, and, uh, I have a project with Return to Forever, coming up next year that I'm, uh, rearranging some music and writing some new music. I have, uh, several projects that I'm, um, working on.

CBL: Uhu. Em… Whenever you show up on my radar, I always notice you’re doing some, something with, eh, someone else, eh, y'know, sometimes it's duets with, like Hiromi Uehara, or I saw you recently doing fourhand with Herbie Hancock, and then there’s, eh, there’s all these projects and collaborations – Five Peace Band… Last time you came to Tokyo it was with, eh, Lenny and Stanley. Now you've got a different trio coming and, um…

CC: Are you getting dizzy?

CBL: Mm?

CC: Is it making you dizzy?

CBL: No, no, no. I’m not saying it's weird or anything, but it just, like, raises… It raises the question, for me, like, eh, with jazz, where, like, personality is really to the fore in the music, em, how do you manage to be so easy to get along with all these different people and personalities in there?

CC: Well, y'know, it might seem, uh, uh, a lot more, uhm, hurried, when you view it from the Internet, uh… For me it’s, it’s more or less one project at a time, and I, uh, pull myself into whatever the current project is. Hhh, right now it's, uh, preparing music for the tour to Japan with, uh, Christian [McBride] and, and Brian [Blade], and basically I have a, a… I’m rich in musician friends and the collaborations have been, uh, ones with musicians that I’ve known for many, many years, uh, and, uh, it’s all, uh, very inspiring to me to, to be able to, uh, work with, er, with these different, different great musicians, and I get inspired and it’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot of pluses to it.

CBL: Yeh, but, m-m-my main point is, eh, y'know in jazz, personality's very much to the fore in the music, and you work with so many different people, so it just, like, suggests you’re, like, a really easy guy to get on with musically…and maybe personally.

CC: Well, you should ask them. I, I think, y'know, I have fun with my friends and, uh, I don't…uh…I don't have problems with people.

CBL: So problems never show up with collaborators?

CC: Er-r, are you searching for a problem, man?

CBL: Hehehe, well, I’m just searching for how people solve problems, y'know. That could teach us all something I guess.

CC: Ah, y'know, I, I, ah, I have, uh, I have certain principles that I live by. I, I, uh, try to treat people well. Not just other musicians but just people in general and that generally brings back good feelings to me from others, y'know, so what is it, the Golden Rule.

CBL: Mm?

CC: The Golden Rule. Don’t you remember the Golden Rule. Your grandmother never taught you the Golden Rule?

CBL: Do unto others…

CC: The Golden Rule is, uh, uh, you, you treat others well and you will be treated well back.

CBL: Yeh.

CC: Something like that.

CBL: Do unto others as you would have done to yourself.

CC: well, that’s another way of phrasing it, but if… I find that if I treat others well, I, I…the kindness is returned to me.

CBL: Uhu, but has that always been the case, though?

CC: What’s that?

CBL: Has that always been the case?

CC: Pretty much.

CBL: Yeh? There's no situations where it hasn't been the case?

CC: Are you searching for problems, man? Let’s talk about music. [laughs] Why you searching for problems?

CBL: So, basica… Well that is my answer, coz, cuz, cuz, there, you're avoiding the difficulty. You just go round it.

CC: I'm not avoiding anything. It's just not something I wanna talk about.

CBL: Yeh.

CC: Yeh. Let’s talk about music.

CBL: OK. Well, well, last time…

CC: So what, what… This is for the Japan tour that we’re gonna do, right?

CBL: Yes, Japan Times. Yeh, so, with Brian and Christian…

CC: Yeh.

CBL: And, like, I think that last year you were here with Lenny and Stanley.

CC: That's right.

CBL: And, so, what kind of differences can the audiences expect there?

CC: Well, it's a different band, different music, different band, different personalities, ah, um, last year with Stanley and Lenny, we, we, uh, we played mostly standards, and, uh, just things that were familiar to us, from, from our jazz past. This time we're doing a bit of that with Christian and Brian, except that, ah, a lot of new music has been written for the Trio, and, uh, well, y'know, different personalities is what's going to make the music sound quite different.

CBL: Uhu. Ah, how would you describe Brian and Christian’s musical personalities?

CC: Ah, well, I… They’re amazing genius musicians first of all and they have, uh, each one has a complete mastery of his instrument. They're just a joy to play with.

CBL: Mmm. Aren't you a bit worried that they might put you in the shade a bit?

CC: Uh, no, I'm not worried.

CBL: You'd welcome that?

CC: You're looking for problems again, man.

CBL: Hehehehe

CC: Worry, worry, problems…

CBL: I’m a journalist. I’m looking for a story, but I’m, y'know, very sympathetic to…

CC: You're looking for a story? Well invent one. You're, you’re a writer, well invent a story. That's what writers do, say, say…Take a thing, say, look this is the fiction part of this…

CBL: Um…

CC: …and then invent some problems. Chick hit Brian in the mouth, y'know, Brian fell down… I don’t know what you’re looking for.

CBL: Right, now, um, so, em, wh-when you, em… Well you’ve had this long distinguished career and doesn't that always put a little bit of pressure on you, when you do shows, that people kinda want you to encompass your whole career and they wanna hear stuff, like from way back with Miles, and like the jazz fusion stuff you did in the 70s…

CC: I don't find that at all. Yeh, I don’t find it that way at all. I find that audiences are pretty open and receptive to whatever I bring on stage, whether it's nostalgia or not. I think the audiences are just looking for creativity, a bright feeling, and, coming from stage, something to make them feel good.

CBL: Yeh, and, uh, so they, um, really are, uh, looking to the same things you're looking to – to create spontaneity and flow?

CC: That's what it seems like to me. They, they seem happy with, uh, with, uh, whatever seems to be going on and that's the thing I like to do, I like to bring a lot of different, uh, a variety of, um, programs and, uh, ideas to the audience.

CBL: Uhu. Mm, how do you prepare yourself for spontaneity?

CC: You don't. There's no preparation.

CBL: Yeh.

CC: Because that woudn't be very spontaneous would it?

CBL: So the preparation is not to prepare?

CC: Huh?

CBL: The preparation is not to prepare.

CC: No, the preparation is you don't think about it.

CBL: Uhu. It just happens.

CC: Well, that’s the kind of the way life is, y'know, I mean the preparation really is of the music is writing music, rehearsing it, uh, getting it the way you want, getting the instruments to sound well. It's a, it's all, uh, y'know… That's, that's the, that's the real life. But as far as walking on stage to play, that's, that's… You just do that.

CBL: Umh. Ah, also, like with jazz…

CC: I know one thing that I do to prepare actually.

CBL: Yeh?

CC: Is, is that I have this Castile Soap that I bring with me. I wash my hands before I go on – heh!

CBL: Sorry, can you repeat that?

CC: Hehehehe

CBL: Sorry, could you repeat that please?

CC: I wash my hands with Castile Soap before I go on stage.

CBL: Uhu, so, why do you recommend Castile?

CC: Uh?

CBL: Why that particular soap?

CC: I don't know. I was just as joke, kinda.

CBL: Hahaha

CC: That's what I do to prepare for a concert.

CBL: Right.

CC: Yeh.

CBL: Yeh, it's as simple as that. Right, now, when you're coming over here, I notice that you play on the third and fourth, and then there's a little bit of a gap, then you're back on the 9th to the 12th.

CC: Yeh.

CBL: What happens in between?

CC: We do some other gigs. We're, we're travelling, we're travelling around Japan.

CBL: Uhu, so go, em, to some other venues in Japan?

CC: Yes.

CBL: So, right, em, all together, it's quite a, uh, large number of gigs.

CC: Ah, yeh, well it depends on what you compare it to. It, it’s a nice tour. It's about a, it's about a three week job. I’m putting my calendar up to tell you where we’re going here. Yeh. Let’s see… We’re going to, ah… After Tokyo we're gonna play the Nagoya Blue Note on the 6th, and then we're playing the Sapporo Blue Note and then we're back to the Tokyo...

(to be added to later...)


Anonymous said...

which Return to Forever will it be?

C.B.Liddell said...

Good question. If I had had more time I might have got round to it.