Even though he's had his hand in more than 100 albums, watching Chick Corea play piano feels like seeing him fall in love with his instrument for the first time. Maybe that's why he called his latest album (a collaboration with drummer Steve Gadd) Chinese Butterfly. In Chinese symbolism, the butterfly represents the excitement and fluttering heart of young love.
Chick keeps the kind of schedule you can only endure if you're infatuated with what you do. On the day we spoke, Chick was in the middle of learning an entire program of Thelonious Monk music to perform with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Chick had just finished leading that same orchestra in an entirely different program of his own material. A couple of years ago Chick turned 75, and to celebrate, he kicked back and relaxed with an eight-week residency at the Blue Note Jazz club in New York where he led more than a dozen variations of bands. Chick will be on tour around the world through the fall (and beyond, I'm willing to bet.)
We visited Chick as he was seated at the piano in a rehearsal room at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Chick told stories about working with Miles Davis -- both on stage and on Bitches Brew -- watching Thelonious Monk perform and composing the famous song "Spain" while we try to wrap our heads around the breakneck pace of his creative life. Listen in the player.