Steve Korn: Points in Time (2004)
This one, more than most sets that come this way, reveals itself in successive layers. Melody didn't initially assert itself to these ears. It was there, in dreamy post bop permutations, but it was the harmonies that grabbed me from the start. Drummer Steve Korn and company explore unusual and engaging harmonic frameworks, and I spent a couple of spins of the disc absorbing those and wishing for a deeper grounding in the technicalities of music, in order to aid in rendering in words the sounds the band had created.
Two saxophonists out front on this quintet outing: Rob Davis (tenor and soprano) and Mark Taylor (alto, tenor and soprano). The two reedmen share similar sounds and sensibilities—keening tones on the higher register horns, low grit on the vibrato scale, and they make great use of subtle timbral differences (right and left stereo separation is a big plus here) in the harmonies as they meld into a good deal of unison blowing througout, to go along with their solos and interplay.
Another spin and I was listening to the rhythm section. All three players—drummer Korn, pianist Marc Seales, and bassist Paul Gabrielson—display what I'd call an orchestral approach on their respective intruments. The leader's chops and textures lean to the subtle side of timekeeping, but repeated listens reveal layers and subtextures and side eddies swirling around the mainstream flow.
Bassist Paul Gabrielson projects a big sound that paints haunting washes—dark grey in color—on the low end of the rhythm, not with fat individual notes, but with a vibrant and encompassing deep gravity sound. Pianist Marc Seales I picked up on last. His touch is light yet orchestral—there's that word again—and lush and full. I'd mention a similarity to McCoy Tyner if he were a tad more percussive.
The compositions—seven out of the ten are Korn's—it together almost like a suite, starting with "Hymn," a fittingly reverent beginning of cooly harmonizing saxophones; rolling through Ron Carter's somber "O.K."; and on into the delicate harmonies of Korn's "Little Bird."
Points in Time is almost a suite until you get to the closer, "Theme Song from the Sit-Com of the Same Name," that sounds like a late sixties Motown session band kicking out the jams, a surpisingly gregarious close to a mostly introspective—and beautifully so—set.
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Track Listing: Hymn, Helio, Tangents, O.K., Points in Time, Little Bird, Baraka, Beacons, Theme Song from the Sit-Com of the Same Name
Personnel: Mark Taylor--alto, tenor, soprano saxes; Rob Davis--tenor and soprano saxes; Marc Seales--piano; Paul Gabrielson--bass; Steve Korn--drums