Patrick Cornelius – Infinite Blue

infitne(Whirlwind Recordings WR4637)

The alto saxophonist may be less familiar to you but his band mates won’t be: Frank Kimbrough, who is  often Maria Schneider’s pianist of choice; Jeff Ballard, drummer from the Brad Mehldau Trio and Fly; and the bassist to so many, and Whirlwind Recordings boss, Michael Janisch.

In addition, the quartet is augmented by Nick Vayenas on trombone and Michael Rodriquez on trumpet for a few tracks. John Chin is in on piano for one.

The opener, Regent Street, may be a little too like a lot of other hard swingers we’ve heard over the last few years – you know, the ones that apply modern tricksy slow-fast timing to the kind of harmonies and groove that Blue Note was churning out in the 1960s. That said, it’s a solid opening statement with muscular solos from Cornelius, Vayenas and Kimbrough, and the rhythm team is in tight and tasty mode. Nice coda for Ballard to decorate, too.

The title track feels similarly just a little too familiar in melody and mood, but by now I’m getting in to the character of the players, and there are certainly pleasures to be had. These continue to grow as the album progresses.

Janisch’s thoughtful solo intro to Waiting sets the piece up nicely, its relatively simple tune hitting the spot, and the three horns sweet in harmony. Cornelius turns in a beautiful solo, the band is gently buoyant behind him, and Kimbrough nails it with the horns in support.

Puzzler is as knotty a piece of post-bop as you’d expect from the title; Unfinished Business is an easy groover, with that alto/’bone combination sounding damned fine on the head; In The Quiet Moments shows Cornelius’s ballad strength once more; My Green Tea finds us back in straight-ahead mode but all engines are running smoothly; Projection, with Chin on piano, adds a Latin flavour and builds on those horn harmonies again.

Altogether a neatly constructed programme with a lot to recommend it. Nice recording, too. This album will be officially launched on 12 October at Kings Place during the Whirlwind Festival. With Cornelius and Janisch will be Jason Rebello on piano and Andrew Bain on drums. More here.

Categories: CD review

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