RIP Chick Corea

I first encountered Chick Corea in 1975. I had moved to Albany, NY, for a job in the State Assembly. I’m not sure how I first heard it, but “Vulcan Worlds” from the “Where Have I Known You Before” album by Return To Forever featuring Chick Corea became my song. Written by the band’s bassist, Stanley Clarke, it makes sense I would love it!

My wife and I went to see RTF at Russell Sage College in Troy. We arrived a bit early and walked to a store to get some soda (obviously Coke in my case). The concert started just as we were walking toward the auditorium through fog and mist. I loved hearing the first notes of Vulcan Worlds as we approached and settled into our seats! It was magic, and the concert did not disappoint!

We went to see Chick Corea perform duets with Herbie Hancock at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (or SPAC). Herbie introduced a song by saying they were going to make their pianos talk to each other. It was thrilling. We couldn’t hear the precise words, but it was a conversation in every way.

The next morning, I took a flight to NYC, and guess who was on the plane? Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea!! I got to tell them how much I enjoyed the concert the night before, especially the conversation between the pianos. I’ll always carry the smile on Chick’s face with me!

There was also a duet concert at SPAC featuring Chick and Gary Burton. When they came back out after a standing ovation following the set, Chick said something like, “Encore? What should we play?” My friend Reggie and I, without prompting or coordination, both stood up in our second-row seats, cupped our hands over our mouths, and shouted, SPAIN at the top of our lungs! Maybe we weren’t the only ones (we were first!!), and perhaps that was the obvious choice, but our very loud wishes came true.

We saw different RTF incarnations when we lived in NYC and saw Chick in San Francisco and twice here in Seattle. I subscribed to his online instruction channel for awhile.

Even though I saw Chick Corea perform live on many occasions, it’s his recorded music that reverberates through my being after years of incessant listening. I loved and will continue to love his many recordings, including new music I’m just discovering.

It has been wonderful to read all the thoughtful reflections on his life as a musician, friend, and person. There are a lot of lessons there. He lived a great life, one that can inspire all of us to live our lives to the fullest and to help others along the way. I love that idea.

Thanks for the music and your life of inspiration, Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea. RIP as you return to forever.


Note: #JazzChurch 42 episode (2/14/2021) featured some of Chick Corea’s music and performances that have resonated with me over the years.

Once upon a time, while walking across Central Park South, a small crowd of people was standing in front of one of the hotels. As I passed by, the man standing in the middle and I made eye contact. We gave each other “the nod” often shared among black men in public. I smiled as I continued across town. That man was Muhammad Ali!

I’ll guess that was around 1982-3. I got to shake his hand a few years later when Ali was leaving a South Street Seaport restaurant I was about to enter.

#NewYorkStories

Happy Anniversary to Me!

I just celebrated my 9th anniversary of joining TPU as Tacoma Power’s Rates, Planning, and Analysis Manager. The truth is, I didn’t respond when first contacted by the recruiter because the job didn’t seem all that interesting. Boring even. Fortunately, they called me back two weeks later and told me, “there’s more to this job than what’s on the paper.”

When I returned home from my day of interviews, I thought my answers to a few questions meant I wouldn’t get the job. When I hadn’t heard anything for almost three weeks, I was sure of it! Then the phone rang, things worked out, and I found myself scrambling to move from the Bay Area to Tacoma.

The recruiter’s statement turned out to be true. There has been way more to the role than the job description. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here. The ups have been amazing, of course. They always are. The downs, however, especially overcoming them, have taught me so many lessons.

What about the stuff that wasn’t on the paper? As it turns out, I’ve been fortunate to define this role and add a lot that I couldn’t have even imagined at the time.

All of this means I’m incredibly happy, fortunate to work with great people, and have had the opportunity, to learn, grow, and even thrive.

Still #workingonit!!!

The Origins of Rev. Dr. Bill E. Bob

Wondering how I came to be called (okay, okay, call myself!) The Rt. Rev. Dr. Uncle Billy Bob Jackson Brown Berry Black, Jr. Esq., Inc.com?

When my niece was, let’s just say, much younger, I’d ask her what my name was. When she called me “Uncle Bill,” I said “no, I’m Uncle Billy.”

The next time we’d talk, my name grew to be “Uncle Billy Bob.” Then, “Uncle Billy Bob Jackson,” then Jackson Brown, etc.

This went on for years until, as a teenager, she quit playing the game. By then, with very little additional embellishment, we had “The Rt. Rev. Dr. Uncle Billy Bob Jackson Brown Berry Black, Jr. Esq., Inc.com.”

But you can just call me Bill E. Bob, okay? Rev works fine, too! You can also catch my _ 🎶🎵🎤 sermons 👍🏾_ on #JazzChurch, Sunday afternoons between 1-4pm PST.

There are only four rules:

  1. If it doesn’t say you can’t, you can
  2. It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission
  3. Proceed until apprehended.
  4. If apprehended, figure out another way to get it done anyway!

that. is. all.