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CD Review: Patrick Cornelius – Fierce

Patrick CorneliusFierce
(Whirlwind Recordings 4614, CD review by Chris Parker)

US altoist Patrick Cornelius calls this album ‘the distillation of all the joy, hope, exhilaration, and wonder that music has brought to my life’, and for sheer vitality and exuberance, its nine tracks are indeed hard to beat. UK listeners will be reminded of the similar just-go-for-it approach taken by Partikel, and the bassist on Fierce, Michael Janisch, whose vivid, pulsating playing is at the heart of the Cornelius group’s sound, is on record as an admirer of the British trio.

Completed by drummer Johnathan Blake and augmented from time to time by trombonist Nick Vayenas and tenor player Mark Small, Cornelius’s trio not only bristles with rambunctious energy, but also takes full advantage of the absence of a chordal instrument to explore his tunes’ outer reaches, the leader’s tart, tumbling alto soaring over the rhythm section’s furious pulse.

Cornelius’s musical rapport with Janisch and Blake is neatly summed up by the album’s label name, but the front-line combination of saxophone and trombone calls another UK band to mind: Dreamtime, whose alto player Gary Curson and trombonist Nick Evans intertwine with similarly impressive results. Cornelius’s compositions range from passionate, through muscularly boppish, to tender, but whateverthe tempo or mood, it is the full-on commitment of the trio and two front-line guests that makes this such an enjoyable (and well-named) album.

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