Photo: John Dickson, arranger/pianist, Joseph Alessi, trombone | credit Benjamin Maas
There is something very special about the symbiosis of a great composer and talented performing musicians: many of the great moments in musical history were born of such collaborations. A new instance of this phenomenon approaches as the world premiere recording of Chick Corea’s Concerto for Trombone nears release.
The piece, composed shortly before Corea’s untimely passing in February of 2021, makes its studio recording debut as an arrangement for wind orchestra. Performed by trombonist Joseph Alessi and the University of Nevada Las Vegas Wind Orchestra and led by conductor Thomas G. Leslie, Corea’s Concerto for Trombone releases on JOE’S TANGO from Navona Records on November 10, 2023.
An exclusive preview of Concerto for Trombone’s Movement III, “Hysteria,” is available now on Youtube. Listen here.
The concerto is a riveting, well-crafted work — classical in scope, but contemporary in rhythm and language. Leslie, his UNLV Wind Orchestra, and the Boston Brass Quintet empathetically frame this centerpiece with works by Hugo Montenegro and Jorge Machain, who offers the world premiere recording of his Five Cities to the mix.
Corea’s concerto was written specifically for Alessi, who has given numerous live performances of the orchestral arrangement of the piece with the New York Philharmonic, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra over the past few years. It’s the final completed work of the late jazz master and a cherished piece of literature in Alessi’s eyes.
“It’s a great honor for me to perform,” Alessi told music journalist Nahoko Gotoh in an interview with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Alessi went on to cite Corea as “one of the greatest musicians and composers on earth. What he wrote is not easy, but I think it sounds really terrific on the trombone.”
Concerto for Trombone has been handled with great care since its inception, shepherded from score to stage to studio by Alessi, and arranged for wind band by pianist John Dickson, a close friend and collaborator of the late Corea.
“Maestro Alessi’s work with our students is historic and groundbreaking for the UNLV School of Music, and we will forever benefit from this amazing collaboration with Joe, John, Chick, and all who have brought this music to life,” said Thomas Leslie, conductor of the UNLV Wind Orchestra.
Leslie, the UNLV Wind Orchestra, and Alessi’s artistic collaborations date back to 2019 when they worked together on the premiere of another trombone concerto by composer Bruce Broughton. Leslie recalls an inherent chemistry between Alessi and the ensemble, a natural synergy that would kick off the historic world premiere of Corea’s final work.
“PARMA’s production elevated the album to a level that I had always hoped could exist,” said Leslie. “The anticipation of the recording becoming available globally consumes and embodies the love that I have for music, and for these special musicians who recorded this amazing concerto.”
The live premiere performance of JOE’S TANGO will be held on November 16, 2023 at the UNLV Performing Arts Center’s Artemus Ham Concert Hall, just six days following the international release of the album by PARMA/Navona Records.