Jazz piano legend Chick Corea played The Star Spangled Banner at the NY Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles football game at MetLife Stadium on 11/6/16.
It was a pretty amazing moment. I arrived at the game early and saw that they were rolling out a portable stage in the nearby end zone. There was a baby grand piano and my first thought was that a pianist was going to accompany a choir or something, since it’s pretty rare these days to have an instrumentalist play the National Anthem at major sporting events.
I had a good view of the stage from my seat, but I was sitting too high up to recognize who walked out and sat at the piano. There was no vocalist or choir: just a solo pianist.
Even though Chick Corea is one of my favorite pianists, he wasn’t on my “radar” to play at the game because he lives in California and doesn’t come back to the East Coast very often. And as the announcer began his intro with, “And now please welcome the Grammy-award winning jazz pianist…,” my first thought was… “It must be Harry Connick Jr.”
(That shows you how far Chick Corea was from my mind at that moment!)
But as the announcer continued with “… Chick Corea,” I knew this would be a special moment. I’ve seen Chick perform live several times over the years and he’s been awesome every time!
He surprised me a little with how he played The Star Spangled Banner at the game. Chick isn’t exactly known for his technical restraint, yet he delivered a simple, heart-felt interpretation of the song that all the fans loved. Instead of using traditional jazz harmonies, he opted for something more in the style of classical composer Aaron Copland which suited the American National Anthem perfectly. It was hymn-like in its rhythmic simplicity, with each chord voicing sparkling in the sun.
And at exactly the right moment, Chick played a shimmering flourish to highlight the song’s emotional peak. The crowd went crazy!
You can watch Chick’s performance of The Star Spangled Banner here:
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