Well, if the irascible Harvie S is involved with something, then you know you’re in for some great jazz, as the cat’s an uncompromising perfectionist and can scope out true talent from miles and oceans away. Thus, he appears here with guitarist Larry Corban for the third outing as a member of the Aperturistic Trio (great name!). Harvie not only plays but also co-produces Corban Nation, and the result is a luxurious concatenation of nine prime jazz tracks with endless improv and melodic twists and conformances.
Corban’s baseline sits firmly in trad modalities but can break out of them in a nanosecond, speeding up and down the neck like a maniac in mind- and finger-numbing clusters. He studied under a number of the greats and it shows: the late Pat Martino, Jack Wilkins, Joanne Brackeen, Mick Goodrick, and a number of stellar components. He’s also played / performed / recorded with Roy Hargrove, Wayne Krantz, Vic Juris, and too many others to list. In other words: serious, y’all. Steve Slagle has also hosted the gent and appears on three cuts here, lighting the upper reaches of the compositions, all of which Corban wrote save for “Segment” (Charlie Parker) and “I Should Care” (Cahn/Stordahl/Weston).
“What It Is” brings the funk, generously redolent of Joe Beck, Eric Gale – both dearly missed now – John Tropea, and the 70s hipsters…until he breaks out the trouble switch and then it’s Mike Stern, John Scofield, and Larry Coryell all the way, with a dram of Gary Boyle for added piquancy. James Weidman steps in on organ to Kudu/CTI the joint up as Harvie dogs the understructure with a dancing Harlem steady-on, Steve Williams drumming around under, and beside his compeers, bringing a hell of a lot more than you’ll find, all due respect, on old Motown recordings.
I find quite a few similarities between Mr. Corban and Dave Stryker, Calvin Keys, and other ear candy fretsmeisters as well, that tasty Toy Shop Of The 70s thing where ornamental delectations and cross-genre inspissations become so damned attractive, elsewhere caught in a cross-disciplinary stew by combos like Soullive but nowhere near as many as we dinosaurs from the Boomer Era might prefer. The fusion factor ramps up in “The Shape of Time”, then “Segment” be-bops all around the studio, and “Slow Fizz” wafts across the Atlantic for an ECM interlude highly reminiscent of that label’s high period, essences of Art Lande, Ralph Towner, John Abercrombie, and hallowed staples cropping up all through the 7:23 track. With that much territory to cover, I suggest listeners pack a gourmet lunch, strap on the hiking boots, and heft a flagon of whiskey; things need to be done correctly!