With his untimely passing in February 2021, accolades emanated worldwide from musicians, critics and fans about multi-Grammy winner Chick Corea. What was less known then is the fact that Corea and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaireGlenn Zottola were not only longtime close pals, but frequently interacted musically. The Legend & I is an artistic culmination of that friendship and professional relationship. And, as might be expected from artists of this caliber, the result is spectacular.
The album offers a series of well-known GAS standards mixed with a handful of Corea originals. "But Not for Me" opens the date with a Harmon-muted Zottola buzzing and pianist Corea offering fluttering lines and comps before things open up with fierce drive. That muted texture returns with a driven "Autumn Leaves." Corea, here as "rhythm section," is tracked playing marimba, bass, and drums. "Crystal Silence," the first of the Corea originals, is serene and darker with Zottola's vibrato-less tenor establishing the mood brilliantly. Electronics are the order with "Z-Mother Test Project" and "MOOG/Arp Project" in which the partners offer frantic ping-ponged sonic wizardry.
Zottola, a scion of a jazz club-owning musical family, has led a lengthy and formidable jazz life with stints with Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Bob Wilber, et al. He has also been a musical director and producer for Suzanne Somers. If he only played trumpet, Zottola's legacy would be firmly established. A self-taught saxophonist, he is on tenor and alto on this date and has all the goodschops, lush sound and solid improv techniqueto hold court with Corea. "Skylark" and "You Go to My Head" are taken balladic straight with tenor and acoustic piano and are lovely and engaging. Again, these cuts display the creative genius and interplay between these two masters.
The outstanding and swinging rhythm section of Avishai Cohen and Adam Cruz shine bright on the two tracks on which they appear ("But Not for Me," "Gliden with Haydn"). One wishes that there were more tunes here with this quartet.
What can be said that has not been about Corea? Across the session his playing, both accompanying and soloing, is masterful. It is obvious that he is digging this session. Corea passed while "Crystal Silence" was recorded. A second track of "Crystal Silence" (recorded after Corea's passing), features vocalist Pamela Driggs, guitarist Romero Lubombo and Zottola and is deeply gorgeous. Kudos to Bernie Kirsh and the production team, as the production values are outstanding.
Corea is a 25-time Grammy winner. The Legend & I might wind up being another. It is that good.
But Not for Me; Crystal Silence; Autumn Leaves; Z-Mother Test Project; Skylark; Moog 1 ARP
Project; You Go to My Head; Gliden Not Hadyn; Bonus Track- Crystal Silence.
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