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Maybe Steps

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Album Review

Patrick Cornelius made an impression early on with his music, earning full scholarships to the undergraduate jazz program at Berklee and the Master's program at Manhattan School of Music, in addition to several awards for his skill as a composer. For this 2010 session the alto saxophonist enlisted a group including the talented pianist Gerald Clayton (a leader in his own right), bassist Peter Slavov, guitarist Miles Okazaki, and drummer Kendrick Scott to interpret several originals and one jazz standard. His cheerful "Maybe Steps" bubbles with energy, built upon a catchy theme. "Bella's Dreaming," dedicated to his young daughter, is a whispering ballad showcasing his lyrical playing with the rhythm section playing an easygoing cadence that gradually builds in intensity. The explosive nature of "Shiver Song" is calmed somewhat by Clayton's elegant, intuitive piano. Cornelius and Okazaki engage in a furious call-and-response in the introduction to the late George Shearing's '40s bop tune "Conception," with potent solos by both men prior to passing the baton to Clayton, who takes the piece farther out. For the standard "My Ship," Assen Doykin takes over the piano for a heartfelt, spacious duet with Cornelius.

Customer Reviews

Another Great One from Patrick Cornelius

This has been a mainstay on the iPod since it came out. I've been a fan of Patrick's since Lucid Dream. Maybe Steps occupies a sweet spot that makes you want to keep listening - direct and accessible in its songwriting, but just challenging enough to reward repeated listenings with some surprises.

The band are some of the best musicians playing - including Kendrick Scott, Miles Okazaki, and Gerald Clayton - and they're all utilized to the fullest. Clayton takes some fantastic solos but he's at his best when he's comping behind the others. Scott has pyrotechnics in reserve but also has plenty of opportunity to display his trademark sensitivity, and though you don't often hear Okazaki featured in a straight-ahead setting, this makes you thirsty for more.

Cornelius' virtuosity on the alto is in full effect on this album, but his greatest gift might be coaxing surprising performances out of his players. The album offers a broad palate of material, from the (paradoxically?) burning Shiver Song to the inflective and rueful Brother Gabriel. My personal favorite, though, is actually the group's rendition of George Shearing's Conception, whose lopsided phrases, made more oblique by an adventurous arrangement, somehow sound exactly right. Here the band's huge ears are on full display, as the members nimbly cop each-other's motific material and each picks up where the last left off.

Maybe Steps builds on the whimsy and risk-taking of Fierce, but with a chordal lushness reminiscent of Lucid Dream. A "must hear" for the modern jazz fan.

Maybe Steps, Patrick Cornelius
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Rock
  • Released: Sep 20, 2011

Customer Ratings