Whirlwind Recordings ***1/2
The last time I heard US alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius play it was around 2am in Ronnie Scott’s, where better? And Cornelius was getting well and truly stuck into his hero Charlie Parker’s tune ‘Dexterity’. It was impressive stuff, and since first hearing him a few years earlier I was struck by the more intuitive and personal style he is projecting these days. That was in April with a different quartet to the one featured here, but the altoist had already, unbeknownst to me at the time, made this album in October last year in Brooklyn. The title takes its name from a flash of inspiration Cornelius had experienced during a flight from New York to Texas looking out into the great blue yonder. Basically a quartet record with, joining Cornelius, Whirlwind’s Michael Janisch who was also playing that night in Scott’s plus pianist Frank Kimbrough on all but one track and drummer Jeff Ballard, plus guests of whom we hear trombonist Nick Vayenas most, the nine tracks fit well together and have an at-times bluesy, strongly seasoned but very retro bop-into-hard bop sound. It could have been made in the 1960s or even the late-1950s but that’s OK. After all there’s nothing new under the sun. More importantly it is very well played and the band really feel the music, it’s easy to discern. I’m not sure if the tunes are that grabby but if you were listening to this band from a distance you might just stay by the bar and let the music wash all over you. The band sounds “live in the studio” which is always a good sign and that’s impossible to fake so that’s probably the clincher. Vayenas comes good on ‘Unfinished Business’, and Ballard is a pleasure to listen to as always, it’s easy to hear why so many younger musicians listen to his work with Brad Mehldau for inspiration. But it’s Cornelius who leads from the front and on this his fourth album as a leader he is clearly getting results.
Released on 30 July