At 75, Chick Corea still heating up the jazz scene

Chick Corea
Chick Corea

Chick Corea has been celebrating turning 75 for months now -- the big day was June 12 -- and the legendary jazz pianist has been playing up a storm. Luckily, for us, he no plans of slowing down. Corea will be one of the main attractions at the Arsht Center’s Jazz Roots concert series. See the 22-time Grammy winner perform with Cuban composer Gonzalo Rubalcaba on Friday night at the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall.

What can readers expect from the concert?

Well, a lot of piano, that’s for sure. Gonzalo and I are old friends and always have a blast playing together. I’m looking forward to some fun with him and with the Miami audience.

How do you prepare for concerts?

Let’s see. I have something nutritious to eat, brush my teeth, do some stretching, put on a clean shirt and, if there’s a piano in my dressing room, play a little. Oh, and I usually try to have the hall turn the AC down; I like it warm.

Do you have a favorite song to play live?

I don’t really. I just love to play. Actually, as I perform every night, I gravitate towards certain songs that I want to perfect or that seem to be working well in concert. Of course, this Miami show is going to be pretty purely an improvisation.

How do you like playing in Miami?

Miami has a great vibe. Of course, I love the weather. I'm a Florida [Clearwater] resident myself. I had a great time playing with our youth orchestra there some years ago.

Who is your inspiration musically?

There are so many musicians, artists, writers, dancers -- nonprofessionals as well -- who inspire me. There's certainly not just one. When I see anyone using his or her natural born freedom of expression I’m usually interested and often captivated.

What else is happening news wise with you?

I’m just finishing up a new recording with a brand-new band. [Renowned drummer] Steve Gadd and I have been longtime friends and musical associates. We’ve managed to play together in various projects through the years. I’m also interacting with musicians from around the world on a project called “Chick Corea Music Workshops.” I sometimes invite guests to join me on the show. I’ve had Stanley Clarke, Robert Glasper, Bela Fleck and many other musician friends of mine come on to share their wisdom with all who tune in from around the world.

What do you think of today’s jazz scene?

As I travel, I see that the world is filled with young musicians who are creating new things all the time. It’s not easy sometimes to get support for new and untried projects in artists. But the future looks bright creatively!