Larry Corban Interview with Modern Jazz Today


Larry-Corban-EMERGENCE-HighRes-CoverGuitarist Larry Corban is known for his daredevil solos and instinct for well-placed excursions into the realm of improvisation.  His talents are demonstrated on his latest recording Emergence, a post-bop/straight-ahead jazz assortment containing six originals and two covers.  Joining Corban on the tracks is saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi and members of the Aperturistic Trio, pianist James Weidman, bassist Harvie S and drummer Steve Williams. Collectively, the quintet creates the album of Corban’s dreams.

He provides, “I’ve been listening to Jerry and Harvie since I was in high school.  Getting to play with these guys is like getting to play with the Beatles or a similar band of superheroes!”  He enthuses, “Each member of the ensemble can play in a myriad of styles that allows for a huge breadth of scope when sculpting new material.  Generally, they can take any new composition and transform it into something better than I intended.”

How did Corban manage to meet and connect with his heroes and form a lifelong bond?  He recounts, “I met Harvie S on Facebook of all places.  In 2009, I decided to reach out to my favorite bass player, Harvie S, and asked him if he wanted to get together and play.  I sent Harvie some videos of my playing with the Larry Corban Electric Trio, and we started doing sessions with various drummers, workshopping my tunes for four years.”

Fast forward, he chronicles, “In 2013, we decided it was time to make a guitar trio record.  Harvie put me in contact with drummer, Steve Williams, and we made The Circle Starts Here for Nabroc Records.  The following year it was thought that it would strengthen the ensemble to add a pianist.  Harvie connected me with James Weidman”

He clarifies, “Harvie, Steve, and James are also a band called the Aperturistic Trio.  In 2014, we made a record called The Corbanator – Larry Corban & The Aperturistic Trio.  This group is what I consider the core ensemble for my records.”

“In 2016,” he furnishes, “we made Corban Nation and added guest alto and soprano saxophonist, Steve Slagle, for three cuts.  This album had me compositionally moving in a funkier direction with the occasional use of effects like distortion on the guitar.  Since I already have a history of three recordings done with the Aperturistic Trio, I wanted to continue that band development process.  Now in 2019, we’ve released Emergence with tenor saxophonist, Jerry Bergonzi, as the added guest for four cuts.”  The four tracks that feature Bergonzi are “Table Steaks,” “Sea of Fire,” “On The Fly,” and “Soon To Be.”

“I met Jerry through Harvie S,” he recollects. “Harvie contacted Jerry about playing on the session.  Based on Jerry’s schedule we set a LarryCorban-5record date.  I had heard about Jerry in high school in late 80’s.  At the time, Michael Brecker was quoted as saying ‘Jerry Bergonzi is his reason for getting up and practicing every day!”

Inviting guest soloists on tracks has been a pattern on Corban’s records.  He notes, “I’ve been having guests on my records for the last two releases.  The last CD had Steve Slagle on alto and soprano sax for three tunes.  For Emergence, Harvie S suggested that we get Jerry Bergonzi on tenor sax since they had started playing together at Jerry’s residency at the Lillipad in Boston.  I was able to get Jerry on a weekend when he was playing in New York City to record with us.”

He recalls, “The plan for the tunes we recorded with Jerry for Emergence was that we were going play one of Jerry’s tunes ‘Table Steaks,’ which is a contrafact melody over the chord changes to ‘Stablemates’ by Benny Golson, two of my favorite tunes from my catalog (‘Sea of Fire’ and ‘On The Fly’), and a tune that Harvie specifically wrote for Jerry and me to play on this record (‘Soon To Be’).”

“I didn’t need to give Jerry any verbal instruction on ‘Sea of Fire’ and ‘Table Steaks,’” he vouches, “other than solo order.  We fixed a note in the tenor melody of ‘Sea of Fire’ because it was incorrectly written down.  We doubled the melody on ‘Sea of Fire.’”  He specifies about the track, “I came up with the title of ‘Sea of Fire’ because the melody is so angular rhythmically and the chord changes dense harmonically that the tune is a sea of fire to play through.”

Regarding the latter track, he illuminates, “I played the trumpet part on ‘Table Steaks’ as an added harmony part in my Logic Pro X home studio.  During the main recording session at Teaneck Sound, I doubled the melody with Jerry on ‘Table Steaks.’  Through email I had Jerry check if I got the notes right on the trumpet part for ‘Table Steaks.’”

Another track, “Observer Effect,” also evolved incrementally as the musicians shared their ideas and actively collaborated.   He remembers, “‘Observer Effect’ was conceived around the opening eighth note line of the tune when the band goes into time.  It felt right to keep it in a straight eighth note, ECM feel.  This tune is my ‘Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh.  It went through several edits before arriving at this final version.  I got together with Harvie a few times to workshop this tune into the version that it is.  Composition to me is about the process of editing!”

LarryCorban-2He observes, “With each recording, I try to do something I haven’t done before on previous recordings.  [The track] ‘Non-Determinism’ was the first time I ever wrote a ballad that was floating in and out of time.  It’s free and metric.  That’s something I’ve never done before!”

He reflects about his experience during the recording sessions for Emergence, “The biggest challenge is getting to all the parts of the process from recording to final product seamlessly without sacrificing any angle of the vision of the project for expediency. Get who is best for your project not who’s conveniently part of your friend network!”

Overall, he describes, “This record is straight-ahead and hard swingin’ in a mid-60’s Blue Note way.”

Rather than giving the recording a retro title, Corban christened it with a much more forward-thinking appellation.  He explains the reasoning behind the album title Emergence, “It’s a math/music connection.  Emergence Theory is the New Theory of Everything in Quantum Physics.  Emergence Theory is too long of an album title, so I shortened it to Emergence.  Another take on the idea is that this music was in a process of emergence through the moment of spontaneous combustion like Michelangelo allowing the sculpture the process of emergence from the stone.  Having Jerry Bergonzi definitely created an emergence of some fantastic musical moments!”

Enhancing those musical moments is the guitar model of guitar that Corban plays on the recording citing, “The guitar I play is a Gibson L-5 1978 CES Series. I like this Gibson L-5 specifically for the sponginess of the sound of the chords and intervals.  It really has the Wes Montgomery sound built into it!”

He muses enthusiastically, “I have 24 different guitars, due to the musical theater work I do.  I try to have all the different guitar sounds (acoustic steel string, nylon string, 12-string, all the different electric guitars) and doubles (banjo, mandolin, and ukulele) when they are called for.”

Like his array of guitars, Corban also has an array of sites where listeners can find his music.  He lists, “Emergence is available at, CD Baby, Apple iTunes, Amazon, and streaming outlets like Spotify and YouTube.  I’m in the process of setting up a regional tour. Stay tuned at my website,”

He considers, “I would like to play jazz festivals and more jazz clubs within the Tri-State area and over time travel to Europe: UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.”

“I find audiences for my music,” he projects, “through people that also enjoy the music of the sidemen in my band that are jazz guitar fans and/or jazz guitarist, or anyone that enjoys jazz with an edgier, fusion attitude.  I believe people don’t have to listen to you, you have to make them listen to you! You have to give them a reason to engage with your music and that is not a given!”

“Each project teaches you something new,” he attests.” The mix on Emergence is the best yet! The biggest lessons I learned with Emergence is ‘keep your eye on your vision’ and ‘the health of your creative project comes first.’”

The A-list of superheroes playing on Emergence give Corban the confidence to take his music to the public.  Through the collaborative process, tracks are finely tuned, and his vision is materialized.  As an artist and a musician, Corban achieves the album of his dreams.

Susan Frances
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Emergence Review at JazzdaGama

Larry Corban: Emergence

Larry Corban: Emergence

Despite the fact that we’d like to believe the proverbial stars align on any given day, it isn’t always the case. However, when they do, magical things can happen – but only when one is present in the moment almost like an alchemist or druid, to channel that kind of alchemical reaction that brings about this magic. As in life, so also in the arts; in music, to be precise. And this recording, Emergence by Larry Corban is a case in point. Here is a recording replete with intelligently conceived and executed repertoire in which the composer and guitarist, Mr Corban (and his entourage) reduce the complex nature of the art of composition and improvisation, the very agencies, forces, or phenomena of physical nature of Jazz is – elementally – at its finest.

Much of this has to do with the music itself. Each song displays, for instance exquisite craftsmanship (probably) even before a note is played. There is, for instance simplicity of melody, a complexity of harmonic conception and rhythmic intent to describe and paint emotions exactly as they were probably conceived. How do we know this? Precisely because of how little musical ornamentation is required to express things like melodic intent, harmonic cleverness and rhythmic intent; and yet how each song does exactly what it was intended to do, namely to ripple through the body and its senses with the express intention of making one want to dance. One such example is “Sea of Fire”, for instance… which is drenched in a molten flow of melodicism and rhythm, as if the instruments (participating) are licked by tongues of fire.

Not everything is propelled by a shower of brimstone however. “Tasty Steaks” bubbles alright, but only because it seems to suggest something dripping with a delectable sauce. This is poured upon the melody by the glimmering warmth of Jerry Bergonzi’s tenor saxophone. The saxophonist also returns to adorn “Soon To Be” and “On The Fly”, after having contributed to the flame-throwing on “Sea of Fire”, of course. Mr Bergonzi appears on just four charts. It is the pianist James Weidman who is flame-thrower-in-chief as he contributes mightily to the momentum of the music throughout. And while on the subject of rhythmists, Mr Corban leaves nothing to chance with the inclusion of the incomparable Harvie S on bass and Steve Williams on drums; the latter long since having attained a kind of sainthood with Shirley Horn.

Although Harvie S is predictably brilliant throughout, the bassist arrives at his finest moment in the introduction and first part or choruses of “Never Let Me Go”. The profound dolour of his playing captures the aching beauty of the melody and is drenched in the emotion of the underlying narrative of the piece. Mr Williams’ accompaniment is magical across the songs, He plays with impeccable taste, understatement and elegance, and forever articulating what true percussion colouring is all about by accentuating the music with perfect swishes of the cymbals and with never a seemingly curved lines on the skins of the drums.

Which leaves Larry Corban, of course… Displaying complete mastery of his instrument in the grand manner of a virtuoso, the guitarist gives notice that he is an artist of the first order. His playing is gorgeous; deeply penetrating as well as feather-light. There is never a temptation to ornament for ornaments’ sake; every run and every dazzling arpeggio is dedicated to embellishing the music towards completing its harmonic concepts. Mr Corban also has perfect time and best of all his fingers melt on the strings creating the kind of rolling, flowing molten style that has come to be his exquisite calling card.

Track list – 1: Sea Of Fire; 2: Table Steaks; 3: Observer Effect; 4: Soon To Be; 5: Never Let Me Go; 6: On The Fly; 7: Non-Determinism; 8: You And The Night And The Music

Personnel – Larry Corban: guitar; James Weidman: piano; Harvie S: contrabass; Steve Williams: drums; Jerry Bergonzi: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4, 6)

Released – 2019
Label – NABROC Records
Runtime – 51:47


Raul da Gama, Aug 20, 2019

Larry Corban: Emergence

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#26 at RMR this week, August 10, 2019

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12th week on the NACC Jazz Chart, peaking at #2

Top 30 Jazz Charts

Emergence is #26

TW LW Artist Recording Label
2 9 DAVE ROBBINS SEXTET Joan Of Art Cellar
3 5 MIKE CLARK Indigo Blue – Live At The Iridium Ropeadope
4 3 ANAT COHEN TENTET Triple Helix Anzic
5 23 PUREUM JIN The Real Blue Cellar Live
6 22 BRAD TURNER QUARTET Jump Up Cellar Live
7 7 AL FOSTER Inspirations & Dedications Smoke Sessions
9 10 STAN GETZ QUARTET, THE Getz At The Gate Verve
10 2 LUCY YEGHIAZARYAN Blue Heaven Cellar
11 N/A NERIJA Blume Domino
12 16 VOCTAVE Somewhere There’s Music JameyRay
13 12 DAVID FINCK BASSically Jazz Burton Avenue
14 11 JOSHUA REDMAN QUARTET Come What May Nonesuch
15 17 WAYNE WALLACE LATIN JAZZ QUINTET The Rhythm Of Invention Patois
16 19 MARY STALLINGS Songs Were Made To Sing Smoke Sessions
17 N/A VERONICA SWIFT Confessions Mack Avenue
18 N/A JD ALLEN Barracoon Savant
19 14 ANTONIO ADOLFO Samba Jazz Alley AAM
20 N/A JON BATISTE Anatomy Of Angels: Live At The Village Vanguard Verve
21 N/A GRETJE (GRETA ANGEL) ANGELL In Any Key Self-Released
22 15 ERIC REED Everybody Gets The Blues Smoke Sessions
23 28 BRAD MEHLDAU Finding Gabriel Nonesuch
24 N/A MATTHEW WHITAKER Now Hear This Resilience
25 6 VICTOR GOULD Thoughts Become Things Blue Room
26 30 LARRY CORBAN Emergence Nabroc
27 N/A JIMMY COBB This I Dig Of You Smoke Sessions
28 24 YOKO MIWA Keep Talkin’ Ocean Blue Tear
29 13 MIKE LEDONNE Partners In Time Savant
30 N/A GEORGE BENSON Walking To New Orleans Provogue
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Emergence charts for an 11th week on the NACC Jazz Charts at #30

Top 30 Jazz Charts

28 N/A BRAD MEHLDAU Finding Gabriel Nonesuch
29 30 PATRICK BUTLER Sonic Stew 2 M.M.O.S.
30 N/A LARRY CORBAN Emergence Nabroc
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Review Alert: Jazzweekly

Long gone are the days of jazz guitar being simply a vehicle for solo blowing sessions. Since Pat Metheny, six stringers are now looking for new sounds and directions, with this album providing rich ideas and wide scopes.

Guitarist Larry Corban does some miraculous work teaming with the flexible bass work of Harvie S nd the core team of James Weidman/p, Steve Williams/dr and guest tenor saxist Jerry Bergonzi for a mix of jazz standards and originals. Bergonizi’s breathy and modern tenor blows a sleek feel to a hip walking bass on “Sea Of Fire” and the team digs a deep rivulet for the bopping “On The Fly.” Most enjoyable are the unison lines of Corban with Bergonzi on the sublimely swinging and clean “Table Steaks” and the richly harmonized “Soon To Be” coaxed along by Willams’ cymbal. Harvie S does some wonderful nimble work on “You and the Night and the Music” and is lovingly romantic during “Non-Determinism,” strumming out a rich aria out front on “Never Let Me Go.” Classy and clever.

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Review Alert: The Jazz Word

Larry Corban, Emergence

by Sylvannia Garutch

Larry Corban is an active New York guitarist who has released four previous albums, two of which are collaborations with the Aperturistic Trio (pianist James Weidman, bassist Harvie S, drummer Steve Williams). Once again, the dynamic line up is back together again on Corban’s latest recording Emergence.  The core group is augmented by tenor saxman Jerry Bergonzi, who lends his immense talents on four tunes.

Blazing from the start with “Sea of Fire” the song ignites with Harvie S’ rich driving bass line setting up the medium up-tempo swing. The Aperturistic Trio soon kicks in and the post-bop melody ensues. The trio’s swing is enveloped with warmth, it is relaxed with a big pocket. Corban and Bergonzi play the melody, which is motif based and moves through the various chordal colors. Weidman’s solo is a celebration of single note lines and colorful voicing. Bergonzi takes the reigns next, his tone is big and commands attention. His articulations are always just as exciting as his harmonic textures. Corban’s solo is a fury of notes and sweeps. Taking the triplet to double time and playing groups of sixes is a common idea he uses, to good effect.

“Table Steaks” is a relaxed swing number with a straight-ahead styled melody. After the head, Corban drives us through the chords with more speedy licks and sweeps. He is certainly on to something here, the evolution of fusion, neoclassical metal and post-bop guitar. Corban could very well be starting a new branch on the tree of jazz guitar, neoclassical post-bop guitar.  Bergonzi picks up where Corban ends and effortlessly spins out a swinging solo of style and flurries. All the while, The Aperturistic Trio is laying down the hippest swing possible. Weidman closes the solos with a joyous sound from the piano. Corban’s head is in the tradition and provides the perfect launching sounds for this amazing group of musicians.

Corban has put forth another worthy listen.  Filled with noteworthy original compositions and bodacious soloing by all.  Emergence takes Corban’s discography a step further, cementing this fine guitarist as one to continue to watch.  Highly recommended.


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Larry Corban, Emergence | The Vinyl Anachronist……..In Part-Time Audiophile

Larry Corban, Emergence | The Vinyl Anachronist

Seeing guitarist Larry Corban with his burgundy Gibson L-5 archtop reminds me of the first time I heard a hollow-body guitar, back when I was a teenager. A good friend of mine was an avid guitarist, and for years he played on a Gibson SG–also burgundy. When he bought a second guitar, he was set on a hollow body Gibson for its unique sound. It hadn’t occurred to me that electric guitars could sound so different, but when he brought that new guitar home on that first day he played for me, and I was struck by that unique tone with those splendid new layers of depth.

On the cover of his new album, Emergence, Larry Corban poses with his L-5. If you go back into his catalog, you’ll see many more photos of that Gibson. He holds it like he never lets go, and he plays it the same exact way. Corban’s style is swift and precise, and he knows how to extract a perfect note, full of those unique hollow-body resonances, each and every time. On Emergence he’s playing with the Aperturistic Trio–bassist Harvie S, pianist James Weidman and drummer Steve Williams–a group of guys he’s been performing with since 2013. That makes for a tight and focused set, of course, although Corban has added a new element in the form of sax player Jerry Bergonzi. That opens up the sound on an already expansive recording, and the resulting quintet really swings.

“Let’s just start ripping,” Larry Corban recalls saying during the recording sessions, “let the volcano blow!” These aren’t wild and uncontrolled performances, however, but masterful turns from very experienced musicians. Corban is fond of what he calls “32nd note triplet land,” and the other four know just what that means. They don’t follow. They walk by Corban’s side, equally responsible for these complicated dance steps, which is obvious when you realize the magic doesn’t subside when Corban rests the L-5 on his knee and lets the others solo. That’s the mark of a quiet, encouraging leader, which always translates into a multi-layered sonic treat.

What makes Larry Corban such an intriguing and accomplished guitar picker is refinement. The identity of the Gibson L-5 is used as his foundation, and his appreciation of its unique sound can’t be overstated. But I’ve heard some guitarists use hollow-bodied guitars as a license to exaggerate those sonic differences, and they lose some of their technique doing so. Corban has taken a different tack by allowing the L-5 to inspire his play and not dictate it. If you love the sound of these Gibsons, Emergence is quite a treat–a study on how to do it right through an equal partnership between musician and instrument.

1 Comment on Larry Corban, Emergence | The Vinyl Anachronist

  1. Mark // July 29, 2019 at 11:32 AM // Reply

    Besides the good music, this recording throws up quite a nice, expansive soundstage, way beyond my speakers.


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Emergence is #23 on NACC week ending July 23, 2019

Top 30 Jazz Charts

TW LW Artist Recording Label
1 14 STAN GETZ QUARTET, THE Getz At The Gate Verve
2 2 AL FOSTER Inspirations & Dedications Smoke Sessions
3 4 BRAD TURNER QUARTET Jump Up Cellar Live
5 16 DAVE ROBBINS SEXTET Joan Of Art Cellar
6 1 ANAT COHEN TENTET Triple Helix Anzic
7 15 WYNTON MARSALIS Bolden (Original Soundtrack) Blue Engine
8 3 TEODROSS AVERY After The Rain: A Night For Coltrane Tompkins Square
9 5 DAVE STRYKER Eight Track III Strikezone
10 28 MIKE CLARK Indigo Blue – Live At The Iridium Ropeadope
11 6 WAYNE WALLACE LATIN JAZZ QUINTET The Rhythm Of Invention Patois
12 7 WAYNE ALPERN Skeleton Henri Elkan
13 22 MARY STALLINGS Songs Were Made To Sing Smoke Sessions
14 11 BRAD MEHLDAU Finding Gabriel Nonesuch
15 13 JOSHUA REDMAN QUARTET Come What May Nonesuch
16 20 RYAN KEBERLE AND CATHARSIS The Hope I Hold Green Leaf
18 N/A BOB SHEPPARD The Fine Line Challenge
20 19 JACQUES KUBA SEGUIN Migrations Odd Sound
21 10 GEORGE CABLES I’m All Smiles High Note
22 18 PUREUM JIN The Real Blue Cellar Live
23 8 LARRY CORBAN Emergence Nabroc
24 N/A GEORGE COLLIGAN Again With Attitude Iyouwe
25 N/A DAVID KIKOSKI Phoenix Rising HighNote
26 N/A DAMON LOCKS Where Future Unfolds International Anthem
28 21 ERIC REED Everybody Gets The Blues Smoke Sessions
29 N/A MARLENE ROSENBERG MLK Convergence Origin
30 N/A NATE MERCEREAU Joy Techniques How So
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Emergence Review Alert: Audiophile Review

Larry Corban – “Emergence” – Nabroc Records, Inc.

Suffice it so say that Larry Corban has worked with so many noted musicians that listing them all is not possible. All that experience has served him well as an earlier release, “Corban Nation” was ranked on four different jazz charts from #18 to #1, depending on which jazz chart was keeping score. In his fifth and most recent release, Corban sets down eight tracks of straight up, traditional jazz. And through them all, Corban is using a burgundy Gibson L-5 for all the guitar work. He is joined by the traditional jazz instruments of bass, piano, drums and saxophone.  All throughout this release, each musician takes his turn at some measure of a solo showcasing his own particular skills. While this is traditional jazz, it is also, on most tracks anyway, upbeat and in possession of a pretty good tempo. I found this to be a highly listenable work of traditional jazz and one that kept my interest – meaning I didn’t feel like I wanted to skip to the next track. Really good, this one. I’d say thumbs up.

Overall:   8

Sonics:   8

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