Larry Corban: Emergence – Jazz Guitar Life CD Review

Emergence, the latest – and fifth CD – from New York City Jazz Guitarist Larry Corban, is a hardcore, no-holds-barred collection of eight rousing tunes that showcase not only Corban’s fearless improvisational excursions, but those of his steadfast and often used Aperturistic Trio band-mates featuring Pianist James Weidman, the ubiquitous Harvie S on Upright Bass and Drummer Steve Williams. Also along for the ride – on four tracks – is renowned Tenor Saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi – a most welcome addition to an already fantastic lineup of players – who brings a sophisticated, established and bold voice to the mix that at times takes me back to the spirit of Michael Brecker’s later years.

“Sea of Fire” kicks off the session nicely as Harvie S walks the walk before the band comes in on the quirky head over an atypical Blues set. Weidman digs into the first solo with style and flamboyance before Bergonzi steps up to the plate with his muscular tone and modernism. Corban then follows suit with a solo that seems to run the gamut between straight-ahead tradition and 21st century stream of consciousness before the band ends the tune with a sudden finish that will make you do a double-take to check that your music device is still working.

The next seven tunes showcase the delight of a working group as they bring years of study, practice and playing experience to the remaining charts. Bergonzi’s “Table Steaks” – a play on Benny Golson’ “Stable Mates” – is a great straight-ahead blowing tune with everyone featured at the top of their game. Bergonzi and Weidman provide some very spirited soloing but it is Corban who steals the show as he begins with a fairly conventional sounding set of lines that soon turn into an explosive series of fiery, blurred surge of spontaneity that at once reminds me of the more “freer” players ala Dom Minasi, Sonny Sharrock and dare I say…John Coltrane!

Like the above mentioned tune, the energy and intensity seems to hit 11 on the remaining songs with Corban and the gang tearing up the charts in their typical top-shelf fashion (must be an East Coast thing!) The hip “Soon To Be” – a Harvie S composition – and the hard-driving Corban tune “On The Fly” find Bergonzi and Weidman laying out some serious improvisational ability with Corban once again displaying a proclivity for both the conventional line bordering blasts of frantic free expressionism. Williams and Harvie S keep the propulsion dynamic and steadfast as all noteworthy rhythm sections do.

They do “come up for air” every now and then as is evident on the Bossa flavored “Observer Effect”, the more sensitive Livingston/Evans composition “Never Let Me Go” – played as a trio – and the beautiful ballad stylings of Corban’ “Non-Determinism”, with the latter two tunes featuring a most alluring performance by Harvie S wearing his musical heart on his sleeve. Just wonderful! Corban does the same as he eschews his more vigorous playing style for one that is more on point given the engaging nature of these tunes.  He also adds a slight chorus effect on the melodies of both “Observer Effect” and “Non-Determinism” which – while not really needed – adds a sonic variation which is not at all unpleasant.

The last tune on the CD – “You and the Night” – provides a great backdrop for Corban and the Aperturistic Trio to shine, and shine they do! Harvie S, Weidman and Williams showcase their considerable talents as both accompanists and staunch improvisers proving just how wonderful music can sound when played by the right folk! Corban also maintains the energy and chops that he has displayed so effectively throughout the CD, this time though without heading off into free territory. A nice respite and a nod to those who have come before him.

Speaking of which, his is a style that might not ingratiate Corban to every listener out there, but one cannot deny his honest and straightforward fervour for improvised music in all its forms, which is all that one can ask from an accomplished player. After all, with Harvie S, Jerry Bergonzi, James Weidman and Steve Williams backing his play – so to speak – that says it all right there 🙂 If you’re a Jazz Guitar lover or looking to expand your CD collection, then check out Larry Corban’ Emergence, I think you’ll dig it!

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