Chick Corea –
The Ultimate Adventure
(Stretch Records – 2006)
by Paula Edelstein
Inspired by L. Ron Hubbard’s book titled The Ultimate Adventure, Chick Corea has brought its characters, places and events in the story to life with his amazing compositions. Working with such jazz luminaries and “old friends” who were so important to his music of the 60s and 70s – Hubert Laws, Steve Gadd, and Airto Moreira together with some of his more recent musical partners Vinnie Colaiuta, Hosam Ramzy, Frank Gambale and Tim Garland and finally the members of his current band Tom Brechtlein, Jorge Pardo, Rubem Dantas and Carles Benavent Chick Corea has created another stunning tone poem to add to his brilliant repertoire of musical expressions.
As with Corea’s previous tone poems including TO THE STARS, and two of my personal favorites – MY SPANISH HEART and THE ROMANTIC WARRIOR he uses gorgeous melodies, harmonies and unique voicings and figures, by both soloists and accompanists to portray the versatility of the characters and happenings. “Three Ghouls” opens the tone poem. It has three parts, which depict their wildness, their deviousness and their head-hunting. The composition allows the energy, intensity and dynamics of the rhythm section, flute and piano to set the pace for the listener’s imagination. With their great voicings and unique melodic figures, these three charts have great swing, and plenty of rhythm for the listener to sink their ears into. The Ultimate Adventure continues with “City of Brass.” This piece has a more accented feel and Laws’ flute prowess shines note for note with Corea’s beautiful piano. The rhythm section explores the more subdued textures Corea has written and brilliantly allows Corea & Laws to build their solos. This piece has a mid-Eastern ambience that adds to the theme inherent in the original plot.
“King & Queen” is a processional in the spirit of a Flamenco party complete with handclaps and castanets. This is a great song with plenty of rhythmic choices and actually makes you want to take part in the dance. “Arabian Nights” is another tone poem of the book and the time that features Corea on piano and electronic instruments with Vinnie Colaiuta, Frank Gambale, Carles Benavent and Rubem Dantas. As with the various tone poems, Corea uses a variety of improvisations, musicians and instruments to bring the action to life. The musician’s articulation and phrasings, solid rhythm changes for all instruments and great solo writing for everyone in the ensemble makes this CD a must have. Corea’s meticulous transcription of the action, symbolism and metaphors is a welcome addition to the “musical literature” available today. Listen deeply and take The Ultimate Adventure because these masters have filed a great flight plan and set an exceptional course. Ranking: FLAWLESS & AWESOME. In my opinion this is the best CD of the year.