Jazz Guitarist Larry Corban Channels Straight-Ahead Mid-Sixties Blue Note Sound with Quartet/Quintet on ‘Emergence” (ALBUM REVIEW)
NYC-based jazz guitarist Larry Corban delivers his fifth recording as a leader. Emergence is styled mostly on straight-ahead mid-sixties Blue Note jazz, half played with the Aperturistic Trio (pianist James Weidman, bassist Harvie S, drummer Steve Williams) and half where the four are joined by blazing tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi. The Aperturistic Trio has been playing together since 2013 and have graced three of Corban’s albums. Their tight chemistry is on full display here, both when Corban’s fleet fingers produce dazzling solos and when Bergonzi blows like a raging storm. It’s a solid combination of fire and finesse, as the group, especially sans Bergonzi, renders ballads sensitively and lyrically.
They blast off, with Corban’s up-tempo, aptly named “Sea of Fire,” as Williams, a long-time sideman for pianist-singer Shirley Horn, sets the table for solos from Bergonzi, Weidman, and Corban. Weidman is an in-demand player most recently associated with Joe Lovano and you’ll hear him pushing the harmonic envelope in is probing solo. Bergonzi has been a long-time fixture on the Boston jazz scene and delivers an explosive solo here and on other tunes. This, like many of Corban’s solos is a mind-blowing flurry of singular notes. The quintet stays intact for “Table Steaks,” Bergonzi’s contrafact on Benny Golson’s oft-covered “Stablemates.” Corban begins, heading straight for what he calls “32nd triplet land.” Corban says, “my attitude here was, ‘Let’s just start ripping, let the volcano blow.” Bergonzi follows in that vein before Weidman closes in a more elegant, tasteful fashion.
”Observer Effect,” in a bossa nova mode, gets more mellow as Bergonzi lays out, giving the solos two tender moments from Corban and Weidman. Then Bergonzi re-enters in ‘tenor madness” mode for Harvie S’ “Soon to Be.” Those fireworks give way to the disc’s only true trio tune, as Harvie S leads into “Never Let Me Go,” (the longest at almost nine minutes) in a gentle ballad mode with Corban backed by just bass and drums. The quintet revs up again in “On the Fly” with Bergonzi going all-out with Corban responding in lightning speed on the frets.
Williams creates drama by using his mallets to open another meandering ballad, “Non-Determinism” but, thankfully, they close in fine blistering fashion with each member of the quartet taking a turn on “you and the Night and the Music.” You may detect some Pat Martino, with whom Corban studied, in Corban’s soloing, especially here. Their commitment to straight-ahead jazz is heard in the call and response or trading of eights in Corban’s dialogue with drummer Williams.
This is no holds barred, straight ahead jazz, played both passionately and tastefully. The group is at its peak when Bergonzi is blowing his tenor.