Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Members of Imani Winds & Harlem Quartet Join Chick Corea on 2-CD set 'The Continents' from Deutsche Grammophon

[Chick Corea, Harlem Quartet, Imani Winds]

Michael S. Wright, our UK associate, brings this recording to our attention:


"The Continents" - Concerto for Jazz Quintet & Chamber Orchestra (CD 1) 
Jazz Standards / Improvisations (CD 2)
Chick Corea / Orchestra (with Jazz Quintet) / Steven Mercurio

2 CD 4779952
Release Date: February 2012

"On this specially priced 2-CD release, piano legend Chick Corea showcases both his composer and instrumentalist sides in his vision of world, jazz, Latin, and classical music – converging into a new, whole work of startling beauty. It’s the sound of surprise.

"Disc One: The Continents – composed of six sections depicting Africa, the Americas, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, and Europe – is a globally inspired concerto for jazz quintet and chamber orchestra.
"Conducted by Steven Mercurio and performed with an all-star New York orchestra, including members of the Harlem Quartet and Imani Winds, among others.

"The Jazz Quintet: Chick Corea piano, Steve Davis trombone, Tim Garland reeds, Hans Glawischnig bass, Marcus Gilmore drums
Disc Two (Bonus CD) features new solo and quintet jazz recordings."

Feb. 22, 2012

“Chick Corea’s The Continents: Concerto for Jazz Quintet and Chamber Orchestra is filled with tuneful melody, shows off some superb playing by the soloists, breaks new ground in a number of ways, and achieves nearly all of its ambitions.”
By Steve Elman.
“So this is the first great thing about The Continents: Corea has courageously returned to a form he’s tried before, and he’s written a piece that shows how much he learned from his previous experience. The Continents is better in nearly every way than his first piano concerto, and it gives future composers a model for development rather than just an interesting dead end.

The second great thing about this recording is that the orchestra was specifically constituted for the piece. Corea called upon one of the most esteemed players of contemporary music, Fred Sherry, to help him assemble the ensemble, and he took the most unusual step of having Sherry, a cellist, serve as the concertmaster. Why are these decisions so significant? Because an orchestra created for a specific performance has a built-in commitment to its success, and because the composer can have confidence that the players have the skills needed to accomplish his or her goals.”

A third great thing, related to the second, is that Corea treats the orchestra players as the equals of the jazz players, not just accompanists. He gives them a free-improv passage to conclude the first movement, and they rise to the challenge very successfully. He also spotlights a number of outstanding musicians in the orchestra by giving them short solo spots of their own. Violinist Ilmar Gavilán of the Harlem Quartet, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz of the Imani Winds, and superstar clarinetist Richard Stolzman all have a chance to shine. In addition, there are some short statements in the final movement by trumpeter Louis Hanzlik; hornists Jeff Scott (of the Imani Winds) and David Byrd-Marrow; clarinetist Mariam Adam; oboist Jacqueline Leclair; and bassoonist Monica Ellis (also of Imani). The graciousness of the composer and the cheery give-and-take between the jazz players and the classical ones are almost unprecedented.

The fourth great thing, and maybe the greatest of all, is the beautiful clarity of the orchestration. Even though the harmonies here are well beyond those of the Mozart-Haydn era, Corea’s admiration for the transparency and balance of the classical orchestra is obvious. The Continents celebrates the orchestra as a lithe and flexible partner for Corea and his group rather than the muscle-bound behemoths that previous composers unleashed for The Grand Effect.”

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