New York-based alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius came of musical age working jazz gigs while he was in Marshall High School in San Antonio. He went on to Berklee College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, on full scholarships. With Maybe Steps, the follow-up to last year’s trio album, Fierce (which included the song Maybe Steps), Cornelius proves the value of growing up gigging while putting in the schoolwork.
Cornelius has beautiful tone and impeccable technique. He also has a certain impossible-to-teach touch, a way of putting his considerable chops to work for the songs, and for audiences.
And he’s no slouch as a composer. With pianist Gerald Clayton, bass player Peter Slavov, drummer Kendrick Scott and guitarist Miles Okazaki (plus pianist Assen Doykin on one track), Cornelius turns in nine originals along with a cover of George Shearing’s Conception and Kurt Weill’s My Ship
The songs flow beautifully as a piece from the opening Christmas Gift to the closing Le Rendez-vous Final Tempos and textures meet, mingle and mesh, with all the players getting their due while Cornelius’ alto moves from bold to mellow and back. Cornelius is in his early 30s. He’ll keep stepping, no maybe about it.
JIM BEAL JR.