Minna Karas Marino helped coordinate the Chelsea High School Class of 1959’s terrific 59th reunion in May at the Homewood Suites Hotel. The well-known Chelsea resident received much praise from her appreciative classmates, including Class President Robert Tiro.
Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson has been a community organizer and leader of Chelsea events that have helped both adults and youths, most recently the Latimer Society’s Science Carnival last month at Port Park.
The two long-time friends are now planning for an unprecedented event in the city’s history: a major outdoor concert by a Chelsea native, Grammy-winning jazz pianist and composer Chick Corea.
The concert would be held at Chelsea Memorial Stadium in the summer of 2019.
Marino, a classmate of the legendary entertainer, and Robinson, a long-time friend, have reached out to Corea and he is reportedly on board with performing at a concert in his old hometown. They plan to meet with Corea at his upcoming shows at Sculler’s Jazz Club this month.
Robinson said the goal is use the proceeds from the Chelsea concert and establish a scholarship in Chick Corea’s name.
The concert plans are already in motion, according to Karas Marino and Robinson.
“We’ve inquired about the staging, sound system, field covering, and a tent, just in case it rains,” said Robinson.
Chelsea native Lenny Nelson, who was the Corea band’s original drummer, will join Corea on stage for a few songs at the stadium concert.
Karas Marino said Corea has always been kind and hospitable to his friends from Chelsea. “I was at his concert at the Wilbur and it was my birthday,” recalled Karas Marino. “Chick had everyone in the audience, about 1,000 people, sing “Happy Birthday” to me. He’s the most gracious person. I once brought 14 people backstage to see him and he was so nice to everyone.”
Corea, who real name is Armando Anthony Corea, has enjoyed a phenomenal music career. He has won more than 20 Grammy Awards and been nominated more than 60 times. He has been married to jazz musician Gayle Moran since 1972.
Karas Marino and Corea go back to their days as classmates at the Williams School. She said Corea would often entertain classmates and friends with his playing of the piano, trumpet, and drums. Corea was a member of the choral club under the direction of the late Alvin Toltz.
“Chick was always a fabulous musician,” recalled Karas Marino. “You could see his tremendous talent. Everyone knew he was headed for greatness. His father [Armando] and his band performed at some socials when we were ninth graders at the Williams School.”
“His father was a great musician, too,” said Robinson.
Corea, whose real name is Armando Anthony Corea, has enjoyed a phenomenal music career. He has received 22 Grammy Awards and been nominated more than 60 times.
The two concert coordinators are expecting thousands of fans to attend the event and welcome Corea home. There may be a pre-concert dinner or barbecue held at one of the local hotels.
“This will be a coming-home celebration for one of the greatest jazz artists in music history,” said Robinson. “We know that everyone in Chelsea will want to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime event.”
(There will be a special Chick Corea Trio event for Chelsea residents at the 9 p.m. show on Sunday, Sept. 23 at Sculler’s Jazz Club. Residents interested in attending the event should mention the Robinson/Karas Marino table when ordering tickets).