Saturday, July 16, 2016

Patrick Cornelius - While We're Still Young (2016)

Source & Label:
Genre: Contemporary Jazz
GAB's rating: ★★★★★

“While We’re Still Young is as close to a musical self-portrait as I’m capable of creating. It’s simultaneously a multi-generational tribute album, a gathering of close friends, and a starkly personal expression of who I am as an artist and individual.”
Patrick Cornelius

While We’re Still Young is the sixth and latest album by the critically acclaimed, award-winning saxophonist and composer Patrick Cornelius ​which ​brings together seven of the most accomplished young artists in contemporary jazz in order to breathe life into a suite of new original music inspired by the universally-treasured poetry of English literary icon A. A. Milne.

Cornelius’ personal connection to the sweet, whimsical verses in the timeless collection When We Were Very Young spans several generations. Milne’s classic trove documenting the childhood exploits of his son Christopher Robin were read first by his grandmother to his mother as a baby, and then by his mother to him and his brothers in turn. At the birth of Patrick’s own first child, Isabella, the family’s copy of When We Were Very Young was passed down to him, so that he could continue the tradition. “From the very first time I started reading these poems to Isabella, I remember an instant desire to write music inspired by each individual vignette,” the composer recalls.

"Cornelius is a talent worth watching."
★★★★ Jazzwise Magazine
"Eight brilliant musicians... A cheerful celebration of life and youth with finely crafted arrangements leaving beautiful spaces for the soloists."
Culture Jazz (FR)
"Full of richly orchestrated music with elements of Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Bach and Debussy."
Long Play Newsletter (blog PL)
This work shouldn't just be labelled "chamber jazz" since it's very much more than that. Like its elegant cover, it's actually a work of art."
★★★★ All About Jazz
"Accessible yet intricate themes, lyrically flowing music, great solos and gorgeous ensemble playing, this is an album you will want to play again and again! Highly recommended."

Fatea Magazine
"Cornelius has created a work of genuine substance, the writing often complex, multi-layered yet always adroit, deploying his resources well, the melodic moments often memorable, the solo excursions largely pleasing, the effect at times like a miniature Schneider ensemble."
★★★★ Jazzwise Magazine
"The way this octet shapes the solos as mere extensions of dynamic group play, of something very organic grown from the soil of ensemble communication, is arguably the album’s winning quality."

Bird Is The Worm
"This is a superb album. The writing is brilliant."

Bebop Spoken Here
"Sparky settings for [Cornelius'] own solos and those of a polished ensemble including pianist Gerald Clayton, trombonist Nick Vayenas, and guitarist Miles Okazaki... Debussy, Ellington and Charlie Parker audibly guide Cornelius here."
The Guardian
"An entire album peppered with goosebumps-inducing moments... Cornelius’s music and messages resonate broadly and vividly, reminding any listener of what’s most precious to us all."
Ottawa Citizen
"Much playfulness in the playing... An excellent listen."
The Jazz Breakfast
"His arrangements, intricate with secondary motifs and contrasting counterlines create vivid musical counterparts for Milne's imagery."
New York City Jazz Record
"The engaging music is performed by an octet of Cornelius's colleagues and nicely combines interesting ensembles with inspired ensembles."
Northern Echo
"This is vibrant, highly colourful music full of good compositional ideas and some great playing, with all members of the ensemble contributing strongly."
★★★★ The Jazz Mann
"A joy from beginning to end... Patrick Cornelius takes a giant step forward with this project."
1. Sand Between the Toes
2. Water Lilies
3. Jonathan Jo
4. The Invaders
5. Lines and Squares
6. Vespers
Patrick Cornelius - alto/soprano saxes, flute, compositions
Jason Palmer - trumpet
John Ellis - tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Nick Vayenas - trombone
Miles Okazaki - guitar
Gerald Clayton - piano
Peter Slavov - bass
Kendrick Scott - drums 


Vasil Hadzimanov Band featuring David Binney: Alive (2016)

Source: Allaboutjazz
Genre: Modern Creative / Jazz-rock
GAB's Rating: ★★★★★

Critical to the success of this live album by the VHB is the fact that this band is, at its core, a working band. If you have seen VHB live, you will recognize that this album faithfully relays both the showmanship and ingenious punch of this unit. Obviously, this installment of the VHB is a highly maneuverable vessel that is capable of executing a multitude of ideas, be it electronica, African, free jazz or rock ideas. The stage is the right place for this versatile band to record its music as even in a studio setting they need eye contact for the magic to occur.

Recorded during a tour throughout Serbia, Alive appropriately extends and distends jazz and various other forms. For a start, it avoids the Weather Report-styled arrangements which were typical of Hadžimanov's writing style. It opens with "Nocturnal Joy," a lengthy and thoughtful track which many sections make it unexpectedly very exciting. The first section is driven by pulsating keyboards, simple piano melodic lines and jungle beats which dimly have more in common with the band that Hadžimanov has played in parallel to VHB—Darkwood Dub than anything else. After an abrupt stop, there is an alto sax break where saxophonist Binney explores the far reaches of his instrument. This serves as an entrance into a more jovial and freer section.

"Zulu" is driven by a propulsive beat and a swirling African styled guitar. It's an exhilarating track even more so when Binney starts playing short, hypnotic, repetitive phrases. After a stormy start, the dynamics are slowed down and this section is driven by tribal drums, processed vocal chants and Binney's fierce soloing. Generally speaking, he has a galvanizing effect on the band and his saxophone shines like a beacon amidst the flurry of this ensemble work. All of this moves towards a dramatic ending in the form of a mesmerizing interplay between Hadzimanov and Binney. Both "Odlazim" and "Dolazim" are fluid tracks that are in constant motion and are more volatile in interplay. "Razbolje se Šimšir List" is a Bosnian folk song which the duo of Hadžimanov on acoustic piano and Binney on soprano sax has turned it into a lilting ballad.

The set closes with the lengthy "Otkriće snova," another electronic piece much in the manner of the opening song, but soon morphs into a fusion piece in the manner of "In a Silent Way." In recent years, Hadzimanov has experienced an upward trajectory as an educator, composer, pianist, and keyboardistr. As a result, his compositions are more mature and he has achieved a compositional excellence. He shines brightly both on stage and off, but he allows his band to shine too. His band is playing at the peak of its powers and he has a very balanced relationship with his sideman. What truly shines on this record are the compositions. Delicacy, dynamics, empathy, and a deep affinity is what emanates from these compositions. Alive is easily VHB's best album.  Nenad Georgievski

Nocturnal Joy
Razbolje Se Simsir List
Otkrice Snova

VASIL HADZIMANOV: piano, keyboards
DAVID BINNEY: alto sax
BOJAN IVKOVIC: percussion, vocals