David Chesky, born in Miami in 1956, settled in New York City in the 1970s and now identifies himself as an "urban orchestral composer." His Urban Concertos, of which he has written nearly a dozen, constitute his most substantial output. In the program notes for this recording of three of his concertos, he wrote, "Perhaps one can say my style is neo-impressionist. But I do not live on some quaint idyllic country farm, I live in the city that never sleeps! It is a hard-driving concrete jungle that pulsates around the clock." "Pulsating" is an apt descriptor for Chesky's music, which is notable for its restlessly high energy and rhythmic propulsiveness.
Chuck Mangione laid low throughout much of the '90s, perhaps the end result of a disappointing string of albums for Columbia during the '80s. He returned to the road in 1997 and evidently it was a positive experience, since he returned to the studio the following year to cut The Feeling's Back. For all intents and purposes, The Feeling's Back is a comeback album, finding Mangione returning to the smooth, melodic style of Feels So Good, but laying off the sappy pop tendencies that dogged his '80s efforts.
Rosa Passos made her recording debut as a leader in 1979, but this 2003 Chesky CD may be her first to be released outside of South America. The Brazilian singer is paired with veteran bassist Ron Carter, who provides a solid melodic foundation for her throughout the date; the delightful Brazilian guitarist Lula Galvao; percussionist Paulo Braga, and, on a few tracks, veteran session musician Billy Drewes on tenor sax or clarinet. While the focus is clearly on the soft, effective vocals of Passos, who is extremely effective in her interpretations of bossa nova classics such as "Insensatez," "Desafinado," "Caminhos Cruzados," and "O Grande Amor," Carter's solos are also subtly swinging.
All of the music on this CD comes from the June 24, 1992, concert at Town Hall in New York City, with a host of artists each being featured. Trumpeter Tom Harrell leads off with two fine originals, the turbulent "Journey to the Center" and the mellow but swinging "Weaver." His very strong supporting cast includes ex-boss Phil Woods on alto sax, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, and pianist Jim McNeely, as well as bassist Peter Washington and drummer Bill Goodwin.
Rui Massena conducts the Fundação Orquestra Estúdio’s recording of David Chesky’s fantasy for children The Zephyrtine ballet. The characters throughout the ballet are represented by specific instruments; the two main characters, Ben and the Zephyrtine, are voiced by the piccolo and the French horn. The Zephyrtine is a wonderful adventure that revolves around a little boy from Vermont, Ben, who meets a magical Zephyrtine and journeys to the enchanted land of Eudora. Eudora is a Utopian society where people are different colors, red, blue, green, and yellow! Vegetables are not grown instead built in factories, ice cream grows on trees, and fish fly. When the Blue Princess is captured by Ib the monster, it is up to Ben to rescue her and save the kingdom. Children are taken on a thrilling journey where they learn the importance of friendship and accepting cultural diversity.
Composer David Chesky has two full length albums planned later in 2015, one orchestral and one jazz. In preparation for these, enjoy a small taste of David's works with this mini album featuring his three Brazilian Dances for solo piano as well as his Etude No. 1 for solo piano. Both works emanate from David's compositional style, a combination of 21st century harmonies paired with South American rhythms.
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
Although admittedly a posthumous release, I was very surprised at the rather dismissive tenor of many of the reviews of this album to date. Hopefully this record will be reappraised soon as being a release worthy of anyone's consideration as I feel it does enhance an already rich legacy left behind by this very fine and innovative band. (So what if Charisma wanted to ride the slipstream of the lucrative ELP juggernaut?)