This rock opera began as a pet project of Magna Carta head Pete Morticelli, and was wisely entrusted to the very capable hands and ears of Trent Gardner (Magellan and Explorer's Club). In the works for several years, Gardner wrote and produced this massive project with the assistance of several supporting vocalists and musicians. Based upon the life of Leonardo Da Vinci, Gardner did a thorough job of researching his subject in order to create the appropriate concept, music, and required performances. The "group" is billed as an original cast recording in the hopes that this work may one day be performed on stage. The lead role of Leonardo is performed by Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie, who is perfectly cast. His vocal and emotional range are exactly what is called for and he turns in one of his most memorable performances. The varying supporting players include such top-notch performers as Steve Walsh (Kansas), Michelle Young (Glass Hammer), and Lisa Bouchelle (Mastermind), along with several other Magna Carta artists. The music is steeped heavily in the prog rock tradition, but also includes an authentic amalgamation of classical, jazz, heavy metal, and pop stylings. Musical highlights abound, but among the standout tracks are "First Commission," a duet between Walsh and Young, as well as "This Time, This Way," another duet featuring LaBrie and Bouchelle. The towering task of mixing multitudinous performances into a cohesive whole was handled with flawless precision by the legendary Terry Brown. Similar in terms of approach and sheer magnitude to Arjen Lucasson's work in Ayreon, this rock opera avoids clichés and pitfalls by eliciting performances that complement rather than compete with each other. With Leonardo: The Absolute Man, Trent Gardner and the folks at Magna Carta were successful in creating their own Mona Lisa.
AllMusic Review by Robert Taylor