Patrick Cornelius

After spending a decade living in New York City, the native of San Antonio, Queens, has built a formidable body of work as an artist. He began with Lucid Dream in 2006 and continued with Fierce in 2010. Maybe Steps was praised by All About Jazz for its simple melodies and evocative themes and engaging contributions from his band members. Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz’s writer, said that Maybe Steps “continues to reveal more treasures, pleasures with repeated listening.” Britt Robison, eMusic’s Britt Robison, wrote: “Cornelius manages the modern mainstream while avoiding cliche. He has a subtle, but distinct style with his often restrained, artfully unpredictable phrasing of alto sax. This is his most accomplished work yet. He says, “I guess that I consider myself more and more of a composer,” which is something he never thought about before. He says, “It was always, ‘I’m a saxophone players and I just compose tunes for myself.’ But, other people have recognized Cornelius’s talents as a composer since 2005, when he received his first of three consecutive ASCAP Young Composer Awards. He was recognized in Down Beat’s Players section as a young talent and was also awarded a New Jazz Works Commission from Chamber Music America and The Doris Duke Foundation. Patrick was born into a military family that traveled frequently. He was raised in many different places, including Texas, Georgia, Texas, Great Britain, and Georgia. His parents encouraged his interest in the fine arts early on, taking him and his brothers to concerts, museums and poetry readings, as well as the theatre, concerts, museums and classic literature. Patrick started studying piano at age 5. As a teenager, he gravitated to the alto saxophone and shifted his musical focus away from Debussy, Grieg and Bartok to the sounds and music of Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. While still in high school, he began his career playing in local gigs in his hometown of San Antonio. He then went on to study at the Berklee College of Music and The Manhattan School of Music on full scholarships. The Juilliard School awarded him an Artist Diploma. Cornelius’ four recordings have been recorded as a leader and showcase his talent in writing and alto sax play, all while surrounded by a small circle of talented peers on the scene. Lucid Dreams was his debut album in 2006. It featured Aaron Parks as pianist, Sean Conly as bassist, Kendrick Scott as drummer, and Gretchen Parlato, vocalist. He recorded Traveling Song in 2008 with The TransAtlantic Collective. It featured U.K.-based American bassist Michael Janisch and British trumpeter Quentin Collins. Kristjan Randalu, an Estonian pianist, and Paul, a Luxembourg drummer. Cornelius’ 2010 followup as a leader, Fierce, was primarily a trio outing with himself joined by bassist Janisch and drummer Johnathan Blake while 2011’s Maybe Steps had the saxophonist-bandleader playing alongside pianist Gerald Clayton, guitarist Miles Okazaki, bassist and former Berklee classmate Peter Slavov and drummer Scott. Cornelius enlisted the help of Michael Rodriguez, Nick Vayenas and Janisch to record Infinite Blue. Janisch was on bass, while Janisch was on piano. Two respected veterans, Frank Kimbrough (Maria Schneider Orchestra Jazz Composers Collective, The Herbie Nichols Project, The Herbie Nichols Project, and Jeff Ballard) were also involved in Infinite Blue. Cornelius says, “I have used the assistance of sidemen from my generation for all my previous albums,” he said. “But I wanted to use the experience of Frank Kimbrough, Jeff Ballard and others on Infinite Blue. It was important to me that I could have people my age alongside more experienced, knowledgeable folks who I have grown to listen to.” Kimbrough’s crystalline sound is evident on delicate tracks like the title track, “In the Quiet Moments”, and “Waiting,” which are all accompanied by Ballard’s sensitive drummer. When it comes to swinging, such as the surging “My Green Tara”, a commission from New York’s Rubin Museum of Art, the fast-paced “Regret Street” and the energetic “Puzzler”, they all get on board for some lively uptempo, with Cornelius’ bold alto playing leading the charge. Cornelius says that as an alto-sax player, I’m influenced by Cannonball Adderley and Johnny Hodges, along with a few Dick Oatts. Cannonball is there when you need to swing hard. Cornelius says that this is why he and his longtime friend Vayenas are rekindling their friendship on Infinite Blue’s light-hearted “Unfinished Business.” John Chin plays the delicious bossa nova-flavored closer “Projection” while Cornelius comments that he’s always searching for a strong and tuneful melody. The tune is a secondary element in a lot jazz music I love over the years, such as some of the Blue Note recordings from the 1960s. It’s just a way to get to the changing parts. It’s been an important part of my musical heritage. For my own writing, I decided to go the opposite way and use improvisation as an aid to the tune. It has always been important to me that songs I write involve me walking around and whistling. That’s a theme that runs through all my recordings. Some of these seeds germinated on Lucid Dream, and I’ve dealt with the same palette throughout the years. But I’m stretching the boundaries as far as it could with Infinite Blue.” Cornelius was awarded a 2012 New Jazz Works Commission from Chamber Music America and Doris Duke Foundation. He is currently working on a set of tunes for octet that are inspired by A.A. Milne’s classic poetry for children. Cornelius says, “Being father has definitely mellowed many of the more aggressive tendencies within my personality, which definitely shows through in the music. It’s also heightened the sentimental side. Two songs from Maybe Steps were dedicated to my baby girl. This CMA commission was written with my daughter Isabella and son James in mind. It has definitely influenced my perception of music and the music I want to make.” The new CMA commission, “While You Are Still Young,” was written with my son James and daughter Isabella in mind. Infinite Blue is available worldwide by Whirlwind Recordings, and Cornelius’s hard bop style and brilliant ballad writing can be heard until that ambitious project is realized. from

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