Chick Corea died on February 9, 2021, due to “a rare form of cancer which was only discovered very recently,” as was announced on social media. He was 79-years-old, and leaves behind a legacy as a pioneer of jazz fusion, but his musical output never stopped — from his earlier career working with Miles Davis all the way to his 2020 double album “Plays.” He’s one of the biggest winners in the history of the Grammys, and he could actually increase that total this year, albeit posthumously.
His first recognition from the recording academy came in 1974 with a pair of nominations: Best Instrumental Arrangement (“Spain”) and Best Jazz Performance by a Group (“Light as a Feather” with his band Return to Forever). He didn’t win those prizes, but that’s okay. Over the next 46 years he accumulated 23 Grammys out of a total 67 nominations. That places him eighth on the list of the all-time biggest winners.
Corea has two more nominations this year: Best Improvised Jazz Solo (“All Blues”) and Best Jazz Instrumental Album (“Trilogy 2” with Christian McBride and Brian Blade). Voting for this year’s winners took place well before the news of his death, but he’s a likely winner on March 14 even without that incentive to honor his work. The last time he went into these awards with a nomination and didn’t win at least one category was 2005 when he lost Best Instrumental Arrangement for “The Long Passage.” It’s a testament to his longevity that in a career spanning more than half a century, the majority of his Grammy wins (13) have actually come since 2000.
“It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun,” he said in a final message to his fans, friends and peers. “My mission has always been to bring the joy of creating anywhere I could, and to have done so with all the artists that I admire so dearly — this has been the richness of my life.”
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