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Patrick Cornelius Quintet

Venue: Soundcellar
Town: Poole
Date: 11/2/16

There couldn't be a better match than the bright tones of American sax star Patrick Cornelius' quintet and the resonant, natural acoustic of Poole's Soundcellar jazz club, in the arched Georgian cellar of the Blue Boar pub.

Before a packed crowd, Patrick was showcasing his newly released album, While We're Still Young, a piece in six movements inspired by A. A. Milne's poems to Christopher Robin. Written for an octet, the tracks from the new album would not all easily adapt to the Anglo-American quintet, with no piano or trumpet, but those he did play amply demonstrated the range and depth of Patrick's writing, and also provided plenty of space for high quality solos. Two tunes, Lines and Squares and Jonathan Jo emphasised the hard/bop element of Patrick's playing. His alto solo on the former showed a strong affinity with the blues roots of Charlie Parker's style, whilst star trombonist Nick Vayenas managed to cross-reference almost every swing and bop style without once lapsing into cliché.

On the album, Lines and Squares is a short, sharp burst of fast-paced bop; live, it provided the opportunity for the whole band to stretch out on solos. Patrick inserted soul-jazz elements and Nick hinted at latin tones, whilst guitarist Phil Robson introduced a kind of avant-boogaloo feel into the proceedings. UK-based American bassist Michael Janisch played one of several stunning soulful solos, and proceedings were concluded with some fine drumming from Andrew Bain.

Water Lillies, the other tune from the new album, was a fast ballad, strongly featuring Phil Robson on guitar. He played in the theme with some rippling guitar textures, and added an absorbing solo, alongside those of Patrick's soprano sax and Nick's trombone.

The rest of the music came from Patrick's previous album, Infinite Blue. A hard-swinging Regent Street "got the juices flowing" as he had promised, whilst the title track produced another great guitar solo from Phil. Patrick's soloing throughout was musically intricate yet emotionally engaging, especially on In the Quiet Moments and Waiting. The latter also produced a superb bass solo from Michael, full of oriental undertones. The playing throughout was underpinned by guitar vamps, as Phil covered for the lack of piano, and by Andrew's crisp drumming, allowing great freedom for sax, trombone and bass solos of the highest quality.

In summary, another great live jazz event from this top pairing: a stellar band and a perfect ambience.

Martin Price

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