Sunday, May 6, 2018
Chick Corea - 2006 "The Ultimate Adventure"
For the second time in two years, Chick Corea has assembled a band to give aural illustration to the fantasy writings of L. Ron Hubbard. For those who have trouble with Hubbard and his teachings, this may be a red flag to avoid the record altogether. The Ultimate Adventure is a tale that draws on characters from the Arabian Nights -- there is an ad for the book in the back of the CD booklet. With that out of the way, one has to deal with the music entirely on its own terms. Corea has spent decades playing both electric and acoustic jazz. This is the first time since 1976's My Spanish Heart that he has woven his love of both so completely into a single album. There are more than a few echoes here that call upon the ghosts of the earliest Return to Forever band -- primarily in the gorgeous flute playing of Hubert Laws and Jorge Pardo, in the saxophone artistry of Tim Garland, the drumming of Steve Gadd, and the percussion wizardry of not only Airto Moreira, but also of Hossam Ramzy -- just to name a few of this album's players. But as always, it's Corea's compositions and playing that make or break any of his outings. This one is complex, knotty, and contains nuevo flamenco sketches and exotic melodic grooves and rhythms from "North Africa" and the Middle East. The second part of the opening suite "Three Ghouls" -- which makes it ghoul number two, apparently -- showcases Corea on the electric piano and electronic percussion with Laws playing soulful and slightly funky. His flute gets double-tracked as it floats above Moreira and bassist Carles Benavent. It's spacey, airy groove is intoxicating. It morphs into the knotty percussive and slightly "out" part three, where palmas -- handclapped rhythms -- by Corea, Gadd, and Benavent are contrasted to the dissonant acoustic piano and funky Rhodes woven side by side in counterpoint. This stands in contrast to the electric, short, fused-out, three-part suite entitled "Moseb the Executioner." The first part is a tangled mix up of Garland and Corea's Rhodes. It ends in a percussion orgy by Moreira and Ruben Dantas with palmas by the entire band. There are gorgeous melodic interludes in "North Africa" courtesy of Pardo and Corea. "Flight from Karoof" is simply a fusion gem. Ultimately, Ultimate Adventure works extremely well; it's inspired, takes chances, and is compositionally a small wonder. Above all, it sounds like Corea and his band had a ball making it. Recommended for fusion-heads.
Like his 2004 album To the Stars, The Ultimate Adventure is a musical tribute to the work of science fiction author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The album draws heavily upon the rhythmic and melodic traditions of African, Spanish, and Arabian music.
The Ultimate Adventure peaked number 7 in the Billboard Top Jazz albums and also won two Grammy awards in 2007 for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance (Individual or Group) and Best Instrumental Arrangement.
Some artists find it enough to find their niche and work it over the course of their entire career, refining it in ways that keep it fresh but still inherently focused. But there are also others whose voracious musical appetites compel them to explore a wider musical world, all the while evolving an instantly recognizable voice. Over a lifetime, they continue to find new sources of inspiration and fresh ways to broaden their viewpoint, still managing to remain consistent and focused within their already established oeuvre.
Now in his sixties, pianist Chick Corea shows no signs of either slowing down or settling into any kind of comfort zone. Individual projects have demonstrated very specific focuses—the acoustic chamber music post bop of his Origin sextet, the free explorations of Circle, the elegant interplay of his duet with vibraphonist Gary Burton, the pedal-to-the-metal fusion of his middle-period Return to Forever group with guitarist Al DiMeola. Others have been reflective of grander designs. Concept albums like The Leprechaun (Polydor, 1976) and The Mad Hatter (Polydor, 1978) blended lessons learned from his fusion outings and the organic nature of his acoustic work with more ambitious writing. The most consistent of such recordings was My Spanish Heart (Polydor, 1976), where Corea brought his own distinctive narrative voice to material informed by the music of Spain.
His latest release, The Ultimate Adventure—like last year's Elektric Band reunion album To the Stars (Stretch)—draws its inspiration from the fiction of L. Ron Hubbard, Corea's Scientology mentor for the past 35 years. But here Corea brings together a larger cast of players, reuniting him with old friends like drummer Steve Gadd and flautist Hubert Laws, as well as more recent acquaintances, like woodwind multi-instrumentalist Tim Garland and the group that accompanied him on the recent Rhumba Flamenco.
Like his '70s concept albums, The Ultimate Adventure aspires to find the nexus point of Corea's many musical worlds, but while some of the textures on those earlier releases have ultimately become dated, Corea's use of technology here is integrated more seamlessly. When blended with acoustic piano, woodwinds and a host of percussion, the synthesizers, Fender Rhodes and electronic percussion blend naturally, completely devoid of the excesses that Corea has sometimes been accused of in the past.
While many of Corea's past interests are in evidence, The Ultimate Adventure also moves forward as he explores the music of North Africa, filtered through his own distinctive lens. It's more heavily percussion-oriented than anything he's done before—with as many as three percussionists and five pairs of hands clapping. The result is completely captivating: challenging yet accessible, a perfect combination of head and heart.
Consolidating his career, bringing together musical friends past and present, and making significant steps forward in its blend of detailed composition and improvisational prowess, The Ultimate Adventure proves that it's possible to continuously broaden one's musical horizons without losing one's voice in the process. A career-defining release from an artist who has already shaped and reshaped the course of modern music more often than most.
Adventure has been an operative word during the innovative keyboardist-composer Chick Corea’s four decades in jazz’s major leagues. Leading an assortment of ensembles of varying size, Corea has explored virtually every sonic landscape and unearthed a wealth of musical treasures.
The Ultimate Adventure is at once a recapitulation and a revelation. Drawing on an exceptional supporting cast with whom he’s previously collaborated productively (Hubert Laws, Airto Moreira, Steve Gadd, Frank Gambale) or with whom he’s more recently forged empathic relationships (Jorge Pardo, Carles Benavent, Vinnie Colaiuta), Adventure again displays that Corea is among our most inventive melodists who masterfully avails himself of multiple global sources, from Middle Eastern and flamenco harmonies and tonalities to several African rhythmic styles.
The Ultimate Adventure is an epic from beginning to end.
01 "Three Ghouls, Pt. 1" – 1:38
02 "Three Ghouls, Pt. 2" - 4:02
03 "Three Ghouls, Pt. 3" - 3:11
04 "City of Brass" - 6:38
05 "Queen Tedmur" - 5:15
06 "El Stephen, Pt. 1" - 6:39
07 "El Stephen, Pt. 2" - 1:47
08 "King & Queen" - 6:06
09 "Moseb the Executioner, Pt. 1" - 1:39
10 "Moseb the Executioner, Pt. 2" - 2:20
11 "Moseb the Executioner, Pt. 3" - 1:54
12 "North Africa" - 6:24
13 "Flight from Karoof, Pt. 1" - 6:11
14 "Flight from Karoof, Pt. 2" - 1:36
15 "Planes of Existence, Pt. 1" - 5:25
16 "Arabian Nights, Pt. 1" - 4:30
17 "Arabian Nights, Pt. 2" - 2:38
18 "Gods & Devils" - 2:15
19 "Planes of Existence, Pt. 2" - 2:50
Chick Corea – Piano, Rhodes piano, acoustic and electronic percussion, synthesizers
Steve Gadd – Drums, palmas (on "Three Ghouls", "El Stephen", "Flight From Karoof")
Airto Moreira – Vocals, percussion (on "Three Ghouls", "Moseb The Executioner", "North Africa")
Carles Benavent – Electric bass, palmas
Hubert Laws – Flute (on "Three Ghouls", "Queen Tedmur")
Hossam Ramzy – Percussion (on "City Of Brass", "Flight From Karoof")
Jorge Pardo – Flute, saxophone, palmas (all tracks except "Three Ghouls", "Queen Tedmur", "Moseb The Executioner", "Arabian Nights")
Vinnie Colaiuta – Drums (on "Queen Tedmur", "Moseb The Executioner", "North Africa", "Arabian Nights")
Tim Garland – Bass Clarinet (on "Queen Tedmur"), tenor saxophone (on "Moseb The Executioner")
Rubem Dantas (in Spanish) – Percussion, palmas (on "King & Queen", "Moseb The Executioner", "North Africa", "Planes Of Existence", "Arabian Nights", "Gods & Devils")
Tom Brechtlein – Drums, palmas (on "King & Queen", "Planes Of Existence")
Frank Gambale – Acoustic guitar (on "Arabian Nights")
Posted by Crimhead420 at 9:33 PM