Patrick Cornelius, Book of Secrets Review
Decoding Intervals in Time: A Journey Through Patrick Cornelius’ Book of Secrets
by Jeff Becker
Alto saxophonist and composer Patrick Cornelius manifests a world of mystery and intrigue in his latest album, Book of Secrets, which promises a mesmerizing listening experience. His decades-long career, studded with notable awards and collaborations, has culminated in a body of work that is deeply engaging and impressively resourceful. The Book of Secrets album is a continued evolution of Cornelius’ capacity to invent narrative auditory journeys. The album carves a realm of enigma and wonders, with Cornelius’ fluid melodies and intricate improvisations taking center stage. His artistry on the soprano and alto saxophone, clarinet, and alto flute, underscored by the contributions of his adept co-musicians, fashions a coherent and enthralling auditory narrative.
The album opens with “Archetype,” where Art Hirahara’s piano lays out an inviting modern jazz harmonic and rhythmic landscape. The ensemble seamlessly steps in, weaving a rich melody through a vibrant harmonic progression. The piece blooms with a deep groove, establishing a modern rhythmic setting that showcases the formidable talents of the ensemble. Cornelius’ alto saxophone solo is a river of confident, rhythmically intriguing notes, his warm and round tone flowing steadily within the groove’s current. His improvisation, marked by thoughtfully developed motifs and rhythmic diversity, creates an escalating arc that leaves a significant emotional imprint on the listener.
“Puzzle Box,” an up-tempo selection, swings into view with spirit-lifting energy. The track’s intricate, modern bebop-styled theme sets a lively tone for a passionate musical discourse. This piece celebrates modern jazz harmonies within the swing tradition – a combination that invites the listener to move in sync with the infectious rhythm. The soloists, from Cornelius to Gillece, Hirahara, Slavov, and Sperrazza, contribute their individual voices to the dynamic, multi-textured narrative of the track, enhancing its infectious swing and charm.
Behn Gillece’s vibraphone, Art Hirahara’s piano, Peter Slavov’s bass, Vinnie Sperrazza’s drums, and guest appearances from Diego Rivera on tenor saxophone and Altin Sencalar on trombone, all merge with Cornelius’ multifaceted wind instrument expertise. Together, they concoct a riveting musical narrative, ripe with lavish harmonies, intricate rhythms, and sparkling solos. Each track serves as a stepping stone, leading the listeners further into the enigmatic core of the musical labyrinth that is Book of Secrets.
The album’s balanced sound quality and aesthetic cohesion are a result of the expert production by Marc Free and the skillful engineering of Nick O’Toole. Recorded in the musical epicenter – Brooklyn, NY, their collaborative effort is reflected in the harmonious uniformity of the album, making it an emotionally resonant and aesthetically pleasing journey for the listener.
Book of Secrets underscores Cornelius’ ability to construct a well-structured melody in a colorful harmonic progression. The album is brought to life by his fluency in the language of jazz and his ability to invoke emotion through his music. Whether one is a seasoned jazz aficionado or just newly discovering the genre, Book of Secrets is bound to captivate listeners, engage imaginations, and inspire bright moments.