Patrick Cornelius: Infinite Blue (2013)
The saxophonist wastes no time in defining this album as primarily his through measured solo performances beginning on the opening "Regent Street" and guiding the music with the help of Chick Corea/Brad Mehldau drummer Jeff Ballard whose pounding drums and crashing cymbal accents paint the music. Trumpeter Michael Rodriguez and renowned pianist Frank Kimbrough, just two of New York's finest musicians performing in the Cornelius sextet, take pronounced roles on the title track marking this piece infinitely solid.
The reflective balladic "Waiting" is introduced by the only non-New York-based musician of the group, London-based bassist Michael Janisch who turns it over to pianist Kimbrough whose light chords turns the number into a beautiful haunting piece of music. In stark contrast, "Puzzler" unleashes a hard up beat rhythm that brings an expanded horn section with both the leader and Rodriguez sharing the space with trombonist Nick Vayenas for a quick rumble. One of the standout tunes on the recording, "Unfinished Business," has Vayenas playing middle to upper register trombone to Cornelius's crafty alto voice.
The Soft spot of the album goes to the gorgeous slow ballad "In The Quiet Moments," where the saxophonist performs a slow burn to Kimbrough's accompanying light keys and Ballard's warm brush stokes for a highlight of the album. Unlike many recordings, Cornelius caps this fantastic effort with the surging hard bop "My Green Tara" showcasing some of his best chops of the session and closes the recording with pianist John Chin's "Projection" featuring Chin in his only appearance on a sweet melody that captures one last dynamic solo from the saxophonist and the very essence of Infinite Blue, an album that has all the elements of great music: elegant compositions, world-class players and a gifted point man leading the way.
Track Listing: Regent Street; Infinite Blue; Intro to Waiting; Waiting; Puzzler; Unfinished Business; In the Quiet Moments; My Green Tara; Projection.
Personnel: Patrick Cornelius: alto saxophone; Frank Kimbrough: piano; Michael Janisch: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums; Nick Vayenas: trombone (1, 4-6, 9);Michael Rodriguez: trumpet (2, 4, 5); John Chin: piano (9).
Record Label: Whirlwind Recordings Ltd