Contemporary mainstream jazz involves many factors, including composition, instrumentation, and environment; but the musician's ability to combine all these variables into their own concept is what makes the biggest impact on the listener. New York saxophonist Patrick Cornelius brings together all of these elements on his acoustic debut, Lucid Dream, yielding progressive, melodic and aesthetically pleasing music.
The fact that Cornelius is a bold and gifted saxophonist becomes clear after listening to his dexterous and angular notes on both alto and soprano. But what also becomes apparent are his striking arranging and composing skills, manifested in the disc's nine selections. Making good use of a talented group of young musicians also helps, and the core memberspianist Aaron Parks, bassist Sean Conly and drummer Kendrick Scottare all exemplary in their performances.
The pieces (seven originals and two covers) are executed with an air of uptown vibrancy, as on "The Chair is Broken and "The Woods, where Cornelius is joined by trombonist Nick Vagenas and the two engage in tight horn arrangements and sure solos. One of the most savvy tunes is "Don't Give Up, by the pop singer Peter Gabriel (one of Cornelius' influences), sporting a polished melody with silky touches of Fender Rhodes and soprano sax.
From beginning to end, this music is a satisfying mix of contemporary sounds. The disc closes with the warm "April Rain, colored by the voice of Gretchen Parlato. Other moments include a hot cover of Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce and the intelligently hip "Pretty Self-Explanatory, where everyone sounds superb. Two useful points of reference within contemporary jazz are pianist Robert Glasper and trumpeter David Weiss, who share a similar propensity for lyricism and fresh arrangements.
This Chair is Broken;
Winds of Change;
Don't Give Up;
Patrick Cornelius: alto, tenor saxophone;
Sean Conly: bass;
Aaron Parks: piano, Fender Rhodes;
Kendrick Scott: percussion, drums;
Nick Vagenas: trombone (1,3,6,8).
Gretchen Parlato: voice (9);