Musicians mourn jazz great Chick Corea

“Chick Corea was the single greatest improvisational musician I have ever played with.”

Those words from guitarist and singer John Mayer, who was among the many musicians Friday paying tribute to legendary jazz artist Chick Corea, who died the day before from cancer at age 79.

An innovative keyboardist and composer, Corea gained fame as a pioneer of jazz fusion but was known for his ability to play anything across the jazz spectrum and beyond.

He rose to prominence in the 1960’s as a sideman in Miles Davis' bands, before forming the avant-garde group Circle and becoming a commercial force with the '70s fusion group Return to Forever.

In an Instagram post, Mayer continued, “What an immeasurable loss in so many ways. Thank you, Chick, for the invaluable scholarship of getting to know and make music with you. May you rest as peacefully as you lived.”

And he was prolific - recording nearly 90 albums as a bandleader or co-leader, and racking up a staggering 63 Grammy nominations and 23 wins. Corea, of Spanish heritage, also won 3 Latin Grammy Awards.

Musician Questlove – front man of the Tonight Show band The Roots – wrote of Corea (quote) “I was amazed at his willingness to still learn and be open to ideas and new music. I wanna be him when I grow up.”

In a Facebook post announcing his death, Corea’s family included a farewell from the jazz master himself, who wrote, “I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so.... It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun.”