On Thursday, March 11, The Collective hosted an online tribute to the late great pianist Chick Corea by Faculty Member Alex Collins!

Watch the repetition here:

We recently interviewed Alex and asked him a few questions about Chick, and the tribute that he did at the school:

TC: If you had the chance to watch Chick Corea live with any of the bands that he played with during his entire career (dead or alive), who would you pick?

AC: It’s hard to pick one, so I’m gonna go with two: The band from “Now He Sings Now He Sobs” with Miroslav Vitouš and Roy Haynes. And the second one would be Return to Forever with Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and Al Di Meola.

TC: Did you actually get to watch him perform live?

AC: Yes, I watched Chick live at the Blue Note with Steve Gadd on drums!

TC: Wow! Speaking of great drummers… Did you ever hear Chick play the drums?

AC: No, but I’ve heard he was good! I think learning more instruments other than your primary instrument is always great, it makes you dive deeper and understand music as a whole. Chick playing the drums probably made his piano playing even greater than it already was! (Aside from piano and keyboards, Alex Collins plays vibraphone, guitar, alto sax, and sings.)

TC: What’s your favorite album by Chick Corea?

AC: My Spanish Heart!

TC: What type of material did you cover at the Chick Corea tribute?

AC: I performed some of my favorite tunes from that album, such as “Armando’s Rhumba”, and “Love Castle”. We took a look at the development of some of Chick’s compositions from the 60’s through the 70’s. We talked about what he was doing melodically and harmonically based on some of his influences and how his sound changed through the years.

TC: Chick is considered one of the most important names in Contemporary Jazz; what do you think is something unique that he brought to the table?

AC: Chick was very open-minded about blending genres in a way that many others hadn’t done before the 70’s. The 70’s were big on that. Herbie was going into Funk, Miles was doing Bitches Brew, and Chick was combining Straight Ahead Jazz with Spanish Music, Classical Music, and Fusion. He would add synths and keys to a track with a group that was not of the jazz idiom, combining the jazz language with a spin on the grooves and the vibe underneath it. 


Alex Collins is a New York City pianist, composer and arranger. Making his debut at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival with the Brandon Wright Quartet in 2010, Collins has worked alongside dozens of Jazz greats such as Gerry Gibbs on his #1 record, Weather or Not (2017) and vocalist Michelle Coltrane on her record Awakening (2017).

Chick Corea, one of the most prolific Jazz composers of all time, passed away this past February 9th. His music will continue to guide an inspire generations of students and teachers at The Collective.