“This recording is dedicated to the natural wonder and beauty of our living planet, and to the spirit of musical kinship.” Patrick Cornelius
Over the course of eighteen years living in New York City, Patrick Cornelius has earned a substantial reputation as a saxophonist, composer, solo artist and educator and created an impressive body of work comprised of nine albums as a leader, featuring some of the finest musicians from the global jazz and improvised music scene.
Way of the Cairns takes inspiration from Cornelius’ experiences of hiking with his growing family among the untamed wilderness of Acadia, in the Northeastern corner of Maine. “America’s National Parks are priceless treasures,” says Cornelius. “It was in this place that my passion for the outdoors was born, along with my desire to help preserve our national public lands in whatever small ways I can.”
The album reunites bassist Michael Janisch, pianist Kristjan Randalu and drummer Paul Wiltgen. “We are Acadia, a new collective quartet,” explains Cornelius. “But before we were Acadia, we were the TransAtlantic Collective and we performed close to 100 concerts together in 8 different countries from 2006 to 2009. The music we make as individual artists today is the direct result of the experiences, memories and friendships we created together as a band years ago.”
The album takes the listener on a journey through a set of inspiring scenes. ‘Way of the Cairns’ describes the ascent of Great Head Mountain, through texture and tempo changes and a strong bass/sax unison melody. ‘Star Party’ commemorates a beachside star-gazing session with a lyrical piano feature for Randalu. The insistent, subtly shifting groove and intricate melody of ’Blueberry Mountain’ evoke a sense of tumbling, childlike excitement, contrasting with the radiant, gently lilting calm of ‘Seawall Sunrise’. ‘Darkest Night’ has a feature for Janisch’s powerful, clearly articulated bass, and ‘On The Precipice’ hands the reins to Wiltgen for a thrilling drum break, both pieces articulating the ominous quality that can be revealed when travelling across the wilderness.
‘Valse Heìstitante’ was written by Randalu, with a limpid clarity that reaches out of the European classical tradition, spiced with some unpredictable metric shifts, while ‘Personal Beehives’ is a very American piece of twisty swing after the tradition of Konitz and Tristano. The album closer, ‘Ten Years Later’ was written by Wiltgen: the stately, measured melody returns us to the tale of the band and their journey towards reunion.
Though Cornelius is leader and principal writer, Way of the Cairns is very much the sound of a collective. “My idea was to feature the band as the lead voice, rather than myself,” explains Cornelius. “There’s a definite chemistry here – not super-straight ahead but not avant-garde either – embracing the European aesthetic, but with the ability to swing hard as well – that’s the unique magic of this band.” The inspiration from Cornelius’ favourite landscapes that underlies the compositions, combined with the special rapport between the players, gives the album a powerful, highly characterful unity that makes this a stand-out release.
Patrick Cornelius – alto saxophone | Kristjan Randalu – piano | Michael Janisch – double bass | Paul Wiltgen – drums
1. Way of the Cairns 06:23 | 2. Star Party 06:56 | 3. Blueberry Mountain 03:38 | 4. Seawall Sunrise 06:44 | 5. Darkest Night 06:25 | 6. Valse Hésitante 05:04 | 7. Personal Beehives 04:43 | 8. On the Precipice 04:54 | 9. Ten Years Later 04:23
Release Date: 30 October 2020
Format: CD | Vinyl | Digital
Label: Whirlwind Recordings
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Last modified: November 18, 2020