Extraordinary questions are the impetus of exceptional answers.
Truth Be Told: "Behind the Set"
Perception is not always reality, and my interview with Chick Corea proved that.
Chick Corea is a legend in jazz. When you think of pianists of his generation, names like McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett come to mind. Chick's reputation goes back to the early '60s when he played with Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann, Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria, as well as – later on – with Stan Getz and Miles Davis. You know of his work as a sideman and leader for Blue Note Records, his artistry on ECM and Polydor Records, and his bands Return to Forever (various configurations), his Elektric and Acoustic Band on GRP Records and Origin, and his group that recorded for Concord/Stretch Records – just to name a few.
That stated, when I heard he was coming to Connecticut, I was hopeful his people would accept our invitation for an interview. I have over 60 Corea recordings in my collection, and I am most familiar with all his music over his illustrious career. I rang his office and with one phone conversation, thankfully, everything was set. Personally, I couldn't wait to conduct this particular interview.
Usually I can surmise what an artist will be like prior to meeting them and, more often than not, I hit the mark regarding their personality. That might have been the case in the past; however, such was not the case with Chick. I expected him to be a trifle removed, perhaps aloof, a bit detached, with an air of, "I'm Chick Corea." Imagine my surprise when he walked onto the set and was the complete antithesis of what I had projected onto him. He was a wonderful man. He was warm, friendly, quite personable and very talkative. As for the interview, label it A-plus. I believe I had outstanding questions for him and his answers were just as fabulous.
After the taping, the real surprise for me presented itself. Chick was extremely complimentary about my questions and the way the shoot went. I knew he was very pleased, because he stood around for about 45 minutes as our dialogue about music continued. Chick was scheduled to perform at 6 that evening and after three quarters of an hour, told me he had to head upstairs to his hotel room to prepare for the concert. I thanked him for an extraordinary interview, wished him all the very best, and told him I'd be in attendance at the gig.
Truth be told, as I was standing around talking with the director waiting for the time to pass before we proceeded over to the concert, I felt someone tap me on the shoulder. I turned around and the gentleman standing there put out his hand for me to shake it and said "Hi, I'm Chick Corea… remember me?" I said, "Chick Corea, do I know you?" and we both laughed. It was great… just great. He then went on to say that he was sitting upstairs and decided he enjoyed our conversation so much, that he wanted to come back down and continue, rather than remain in his room.
It just doesn't get better than that.