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Features, Interview

Larry Corban: The Album of His Dreams

Larry Corban:  The Album of His Dreams

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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 www.larrycorban.com/store, 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, www.larrycorban.com.”

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.

About Susan Frances:

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in eastern Long Island, I always enjoyed writing and made several contributions to my high school literary magazine, The Lion’s Pen. Influenced by writers of epic novels including Colleen McCullough and James Clavell, I gravitated to creative writing. After graduating from New York University with a BA in Liberal Arts, I tried my hand at conventional jobs but always returned to creative writing. Since 1998, I have been a freelance writer and have over three thousand articles to various e-zines including: Jazz Times, Blogcritics, Yahoo Voices, Goodreads.com, Authors and Books (books.wiseto.com), TheReadingRoom.com, Amazon.com, Epinions.com, Fictiondb.com, LibraryThing.com, BTS emag, BarnesandNoble.com, RomanticHistoricalReviews.com, AReCafe.com, Hybrid Magazine, and BookDepository.com. In 2013 and 2014, I was a judge in the Orange Rose Writing Competition sponsored by the Orange County chapter of the Romance Writers of America located in Brea, California.

Modern Jazz Today

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