Patrick Cornelius, Book of Secrets Review
Book of Secrets: Patrick Cornelius’s Harvest from the Heirloom Garden of Jazz
by Nolan DeBuke
Patrick Cornelius’s new offering, Book of Secrets, is akin to opening a chest of forgotten heirloom seeds. Each composition unfolds like a rare, precious plant, with Cornelius and his skilled band cultivating a lush, fertile musical landscape that yields tidbits for our jazz gastronomic enjoyment.
Cornelius leads his formidable ensemble on Book of Secrets, showcasing his versatility across instruments: the alto saxophone on tracks 1, 5, 6, 8, and 11; the soprano saxophone on tracks 2, 3, and 12; the clarinet on tracks 4 and 9; and the alto flute on tracks 7 and 10. The unique tonality of Behn Gillece’s vibraphone can be savored on all tracks but 4 and 12, while Art Hirahara’s piano, Peter Slavov’s bass, and Vinnie Sperrazza’s drums create a savory rhythmic base for this flavorful musical stew. Diego Rivera’s tenor saxophone adds a spicy note on tracks 6 and 9, complemented by Altin Sencalar’s rich trombone on track 9. All these, masterfully brought together under the deft hands of producer Marc Free and engineered by Nick O’Toole, form a robust ensemble, a musical pot-au-feu simmering with artistry and passion.
Book of Secrets unfolds like a rare heirloom tomato: each track has a unique variety, flourishing under the nurturing care of this skilled ensemble. The opening track, “Archetype,” starts as the first light of dawn, the alto saxophone rippling forth with melodies as vibrant as heirloom tomatoes bursting under the sunrise. The vibraphone lends a sparkling dew-kissed texture, a delicacy as tantalizing as the first bite of the sun-ripened fruit.
“Legend Has It” is akin to an old vine winding through the sonic space with a narrative force. Cornelius’ soprano saxophone weaves intricate tendrils, climbing over the sturdy trellis of the piano and rhythm section, while the vibraphone glistens like morning dew on leaves. This track is an old vine wine, rich with history and depth, leaving the listener with a lingering aftertaste of rhythmic complexity.
“Lady Of The Clouds” presents Cornelius’ talent on the clarinet, a gentle summer rain that quenches the eager earth, the notes pouring down like warm droplets onto a leafy salad, enhancing its organic crunch.
The title track, “Book of Secrets,” is a testimony to the ensemble’s ability to sync as if they were a vibrant musical ecosystem. The alto flute’s haunting melody serves as a will-o’-the-wisp, leading the listener deeper into the album’s secret garden. The song blossoms open like a night-blooming jasmine, its aromatic allure floating over the hushed whispers of the rhythm section.
“Puzzle Box” is the garden’s maze, the pathways crisscrossing, intersecting, and leading to unexpected delights. Cornelius’ alto saxophone, along with the guest tenor saxophone by Diego Rivera, sets up a playful conversation, winding up and down the chromatic scales like ivy.
The tracks “Ambition,” “The Way,” “Inner Sanctum,” and “The Glory” encapsulate the gastronomic journey from entrée to dessert, each representing a season’s harvest at its peak, resplendent with flavor. The album concludes with “Days End,” a final toast to the evening, Cornelius’ soprano sax offering the lingering, sweet note of a dessert wine.
Book of Secrets is a feast for the senses, each musician a chef who knows when to chop, simmer, and serve their notes. Just like in a well-prepared meal, the elements coexist, thrive, and create a gastronomic spectacle of vibrant taste and aroma. Whether you’re a seasoned gourmet of jazz or just starting your journey into this rich cuisine, this album is an enticing exploration into the hidden layers of flavor in the world of jazz.
In conclusion, Book of Secrets is a delicately balanced ecosystem of musical interaction, with each track flowering into a unique auditory experience. Just like in a well-maintained garden, the elements coexist, thrive, and create a unified spectacle of vibrant life. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur of jazz or just beginning your journey into the genre, this album will be an enchanting exploration of the hidden nooks and crannies in the garden of jazz.