Review of Glenn Zottola and Chick Corea “The Legend and I” by Scott Yanow author of 10 books on Jazz.

Glenn Zottola & Chick Corea

The Legend & I

(Audio Verse Music)

            Glenn Zottola, one of the few jazz artists to be equally skilled on trumpet and saxophones (tenor and alto), gained fame in the jazz world during the late 1970s and ‘80s, mostly as a hot swing-based trumpeter. He worked with Bob Wilbur’s Bechet Legacy, led a string of rewarding solo recordings, and along the way played and/or recorded with Benny Goodman, Butch Miles, Peanuts Hucko, Steve Allen, Maxine Sullivan, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims and Joe Williams among others. After working as the musical director for Suzanne Somers (including for her television variety show), he went into semi-retirement but fortunately never stopped playing.

            Zottola became very good friends with Chick Corea around 2000 and during the next two decades they frequently jammed together. There was talk of Zottola touring with Corea, but although that never happened, tapes were made of some of their jams. The Legend & I consists of a few of their better collaborations. While some of the performances date back to the early 2000s (the exact dates are not given on the CD), these versions of ‘Skylark,” “Crystal Silence,” “Z-Mother Test Project,” and “Moog 1 Arp Project” are among the very last (possibly the final) recordings made by Corea, who passed away on Feb. 9, 2021.

            The set begins with “But Not For Me” as played by the co-leaders plus bassist Avishai Cohen and drummer Adam Cruz. Zottola takes fine solos on both muted trumpet and alto-sax. The duo of Zottola on tenor and Corea perform a rare version of the keyboardist’s classic ballad “Crystal Silence.” “Autumn Leaves” may at first seem conventional with Zottola contributing some fine trumpet, but it also features Corea (via overdubbing) on marimba, bass and drums (each of which he plays quite credibly) rather than piano. “Z-Mother Test Project” finds the co-leaders improvising quite freely and with plenty of energy, clearly having fun in each other’s musical company.

            “Skylark” is given a beautiful statement by Zottola on tenor (sounding a bit like Stan Getz) and Corea on acoustic piano. “Mood 1 Arp Project” is another mostly free improv, “You Go To My Head” is a feature for Zottola on tenor while “Gliden Not Haydn” is a high-powered outing for the quartet with Cohen and Cruz. Corea and the rhythm section really push and challenge Zottola who responds with competitive fire on alto and trumpet.

            As a bonus track, there is a second version of “Crystal Silence” that was recorded after Corea’s passing. Zottola plays warmly on tenor, guitarist Romero Lubambo provides tasteful accompaniment along with a solo, and Pamela Driggs sings Corea’s rarely-heard lyrics.

            It is very good to hear Glenn Zottola back on record again, and to have this final chapter in the remarkable Chick Corea story. The Legend & I is available from www.audioversemusic.com.

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