FAME Review: Larry Corban & the Aperturistic Trio – The Corbanator
by Mark S. Tucker
Larry Corban’s the kind of amphetamine-fingered guitarist who won’t play three notes when 30 can be fitted in, the ilk of caffeinated six string conversationalist technicians and progressive listeners are always a-hunt for. The Corbanator opens with a fiery swing number, his own Dizzy Affairs, and if the nomenclature is an homage to the famed Gillespie, then the rendition’s spot-on…and if it ISN’T thusly written, it’s still squarely on the mark, ’cause Diz spieled out tons of great solos just like Corban’s simultaneous melody line / improv chops. His dexterities and acumen aren’t accidental, having played with a roster of estimables.
If you’re inclined to love the fusiony side of trad jazz, this is the disc for you. Corban gets so involved in complex lines that at times it appears he’s ready to jump into noise and the avant-garde—never does, but I had to get out the flatboard in order to hand-iron the extra crenellations the cuts grooved into my brain, so convoluted and abstruse were they. Sweeeeeet! This is Grant Green by way of John McLaughlin. Pianist James Weidman frequently jumps into the deep end as well but also possesses a comping technique that damn near becomes co-conversational with Corban’s solos. The inimitable Harvie S, a cat with a pedigree so long and esteemed that…no! no! I can’t go there lest Lethe descend once more!, so suffice it to say his lines are thick and meaty even when restrained. With that guy, every note counts and is well considered.
Drummer Steve Williams has, as critics noted in the group’s debut (The Circle Starts Here—and, hey, if THAT’S a reference to the cool-beyond-cool old Corea/Braxton/Holland/Altschul band, Circle, then it too is apropos ’cause Corban woulda tore it up inside that legendary aggregate), a discernable Tony Williams element strongly evident, and he’s all over the place in cuts like Event Horizon. The 1938 chestnut Old Folks tempers things down into balladry, letting the ensemble catch its collective breath while allowing the audience to extinguish its flaming hair, a measured jazzy waltz named for the rest home set. Its follower, Stacked Coincidences, is at first a bit more up-tempo and somewhat more Adult Contemporary…but in a way that makes that otherwise reeking marketing label gain luster…until Corban, who can’t restrain himself, thank God, lights up again and takes off flying. Comport your listening environment accordingly.
Track List: Dizzy Affairs; The Corbanator; Sea Of Fire; Hidden Reality; Event Horizon; Old Folks (Hill / Robison); Stacked Coincidences; Two, Two, Three Step; Swamp Ditty; Don’t Lock The Top; Limits Of Inquiry; Blue In Green (Davis / Evans); You Stepped Out Of A Dream (Kahn / Brown).