"Genius reviews itself..." Brent Black
While the above statement is rather broad based and general in nature when it comes to critical review, there are times when you do not "review" genius - you celebrate genius. The inspirational gift shared from the joy of creation is as unique as the music and the artist, not since Bill Evans has their been a pianist on that special artistic level that Corea has works from today.
In 2006 Chick Corea was asked to write a piano concerto in the spirit of Mozart. Corea responded "What is the spirit of Mozart?" Corea's answer, "The joy of making music." The title may be somewhat misleading as this work is not a piano concerto in the strictest classical sense of the word. The Continents: Concerto for Jazz Quintet and Chamber Orchestra are more accurately works for jazz quartet and the larger chamber ensemble but with the focal point being the unique hybridization of jazz, classical and Latin into a breathtaking presentation that defies traditional labeling. While the Deutsche Grammaphon label is synonymous with some of the very finest classical music available, the musicians Corea surrounds himself with on this project are not the more traditional and on occasion more myopic classical players. This project finds Corea with musicians that are more in tune with the broader artistic vision that encapsulates The Continents.
This may well be Chick Corea's finest work as it exposes not only his versatility but this release shines a laser beam onto the musical soul of perhaps the most prolific pianist of our time. Disc one of this two disc release is focused on the more rhythmic pieces for the larger ensemble. An incredible sonic tapestry of six movements having a decidedly world music vision as opposed to the more traditional modern classical sound. Chick Corea continues to be a searching musician and after an inpromtu jam session with the quintet and feeling that there was something missing, additional solo piano voicing were captured to fit the cadenza sections of the concerto. Disc two covers some of Corea's most inspired solo piano work along with the jam session including "Lotus Blossom" from Billy Strayhorn and "Blue Bossa" from Kenny Dorham.There are other artists that have released work of a somewhat similar nature however none transcend musical genres nearly as well or have the potential to enjoy the obvious extended shelf life and impact on the piano literature of today. Corea's fourth release in roughly a year and on three different labels in an exemplary work that revolves around the joy of creation, music in the moment that transcends time and space as well as genre. The Continents captures Corea at perhaps his creative and performance zenith in a career that has rewritten the standards by which other artists are and can be measured. While an expansive and cinematic presentation that captures the imagination, Chick Corea's immense talent for capturing the intense joy for his craft will capture the heart.
The Jazz Quintet: Chick Corea: piano; Steve Davis: trombone; Tim Garland: reeds; Hans Glawischnig: bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums,
Conducted by Steven Mercurio and performed with an all-star New York orchestra, including members of the Harlem String Quartet and Imani Winds, among others.