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Leonardo – The Absolute Man is the brainchild of “Magna Carta” chief Peter Morticelli, who enlisted one of the label’s roster artists, keyboardist Trent Gardner to bring the project to fruition. Perhaps Renaissance man, Leonardo Da Vinci would be delighted, knowing that a bunch of seasoned rock veterans decided to construct an album based upon his persona. Essentially, Gardner, known for his work with the bands “Magellan” and “Explorers Club”, composed the music and lyrics for this rather ambitious and meticulously produced extravaganza.
Here, vocalists such as “Dream Theater’s James LaBrie along with Michelle Young, Robert Berry, Lisa Bouchelle and others, perform under the auspices of Da Vinci’s associates, family and/or apprentices throughout a series of mini-portraitures stitched together. - The proceedings commence with a prologue, featuring orchestrated synths and grandiose overtures, although the rock/opera-like frameworks tend to become superfluous amid the ensemble’s tumultuous discourses, knotty twists, and expeditious turns. Sure, the musicians’ deft expressionism and academic approach to the overall concept should be applauded. However, other than a few enticing melodic choruses, and electro-acoustic interludes many of the sequences and themes fails to sustain long term interest, as the musicians also employ EFX-based harpsichord patches, layered synth treatments, bone-crushing rhythms and digitally altered vocals. Hence, a good portion of this production tends to amble along like a weighty mass treading over choppy waters.
Track Listing: Apparition; Aria For Italy; With Father; Reigns Of Tuscan; Reproach; Mona Lisa; Il Divino; Inundation; Apprentice; First Commission; Mother Of God; This Time, this Way; Inventions; Shaping The Invisible; Introduction To Francois; Heart Of France; Sacrament; End Of A World
Personnel: The Musicians: Trent Gardner; keyboards & trombone: Wayne Gardner; guitar: Jeremy Colson; drums: Patrick Reyes; guitar: Steve Reyes; bass: Joe Franco; drums and orchestral percussion on two tracks: Luis Maldonado; guitar & bass on one track: The Cast (vocals): James LaBrie; Davey Pattison; Michelle Young; Josh Pincus; Lisa Bouchelle; Mike Baker; Trent Gardner; Robert Berry; Chris Shryack; Bret Douglas
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.