To paraphrase the poet Robert Burns, “the best laid schemes of reviewers and home owners can be washed away by the eye of a storm.” I was hoping to get a slew of reviews posted before Hurricane Irene arrived but, alas, that did not occur. So, in the interest of time (yes, school is back in session and papers are waiting to be read), here’s a brief look at several excellent new recordings.
I have received a slew of new releases that have impressed me with their emphasis on melody. As opposed to pure “blowing sessions”, the recordings in this review start with well-thought out melodic ideas and build from there.
Let me begin with the splendid new release by alto saxophonist and composer Patrick Cornelius. Hot on the heels of 2010’s trio date “Fierce”, “Maybe Steps” (Posi-Tone Records) expands the basic instrumentation of sax-bass-drums to include piano (the guitar work of Miles Okazaki is heard on several cuts) for a program of 9 originals and 2 standards (K Weill’s “My Ship” and G Shearing’s “Conception“.) Check out the rhythm section which consists of drummer Kendrick Scott, pianist Gerald Clayton (on all tracks but one, a handsome duo take of the Weill tune features pianist Assen Doykin) and bassistPeter Slavov. Much of the music is the direct result of the birth of Cornelius’s daughter “Isabella” and his fatherly fascination in her. The music has a searching quality, a sense of adventure and wonder that is often the purview of very young children. No bumps and bruises along the way, just a sweet collections of tunes. The title track moves easily atop the fine walking bass line and sparse yet effective cymbal work. Clayton’s generous chords push Cornelius into a strong, singing, solo. That is followed by the Satie-esque “Bella’s Dreaming“, with the leader playing these sweet, bluesy, smears that pushes the piece into George Gershwin. It’s a wee bit short at just over 2 and 1/2 minutes but none of the tracks are really long. Scott dances “Shiver Song” in, laying down an irresistible beat that gives all involved just the right push (and a great drum-alto exchange near the close of the piece.)
Nary a sour note on the disc, “Maybe Steps” is delightful music from start to finish. Give it a lot of listens. Release date is 9/20/11. For more information, go to www.patrickcornelius.com.