by Raul da Gama
Nabroc Records (2016)
There are, principally two kinds of electric guitarists who
are likely to be encountered in a survey of the music scene today: The first is
the kind who aims his bolts right between the eyes, stunning the listener with
electrifying pyro techniques. And then there’s the other, who fires musical
missives at the heart, there to make the blood bubble and boil and create an
inebriating experience of the music at hand. Larry Corban is the latter kind; a
guitarist imbued with a soulful sound that comes from a hype-free musicianship
that is built on the sound principal of less-flash and more-art. As a result,
Corban’s music eschews funny time-signatures, sticking, instead, to hard and
inviting swing. And yet, sparks can fly with a quiet, consuming fire fueled by
a lot of passion about where there is to go. These wonderful characteristics
coalesce right across the musical spectrum of Corban Nation, a joyous disc – the third CD that the guitarist has
recorded with the “Aperturistic Trio”.
The unusual, ‘found’ word that Larry Corban uses to describe
the music he makes with pianist and organist James Weidman, drummer Steve
Williams and bassist and producer Harvie S comes from an invented disambiguation
of the term ‘aperture’, that device that lets in the exact amount of light into
a camera to take the perfect picture. Corban would do well to patent the term
for it informs the precise amount of musicianly sizzle that has gone into
making this music truly memorable. At any rate, virtually no other musician is
likely to have produced the faultless intonation of Corban, evoking warmth and
sustained emotion merely by caressing the guitar strings as can be heard on Corban Nation. For the record, the
augmentation of the trio on three charts by the glorious and colourful
arpeggiated chord-laying of the saxophonist Steve Slagle creates a classy
collaboration on “In-Vision,” “Corban Nation” (the track) and “Slow Fizz.” Throughout,
though, it is Corban’s excellent ear for sound that provides music that the
other musicians delight in, following to an anything-but-inevitable conclusion.
The multiplicity of new paths that Corban and Weidman seem
continually to be embarking on are exemplified in “Segment,” which takes flight
from the sensibilities derived from the poetic assemblage of Charlie Parker. The
music is rich with the imagination of a guitarist, ably assisted by the bassist
Harvie S, a warrior of many memorable musical expeditions. The presence of
Steve Williams, a ubiquitous figure in the late Shirley Horn’s band, is deeply
felt and informed by a visceral excitement that is deeply felt in a uniquely
blue Jazz manner. Listening to Corban
Nation, a slowly burning disc albeit with brightly glowing embers reveals
new dimensions to the sonic miracles that a group fronted by an unassuming,
elegant guitarist can produce. Corban’s often intimate monologues are bounced
off the three other musicians who each have a more extrovert frame of mind and
play with a galvanizing commitment. As a result there is a constant feeling of
exciting exchanges between musicians with dramatically different personalities.
This has enabled Larry Corban to reach a new high point in his recorded output
with Corban Nation.
In-Vision; Corban Nation; What It Is; Child’s Tune; The Shape of Time; Segment;
Trekian Logic; Slow Fizz; I Should Care.
Corban: guitar; Harvie S: upright and electric bass; James Weidman: piano,
organ, Fender Rhodes; Steve Williams: drums; Steve Slagle: alto saxophone (Corban Nation & Slow Fizz).