Saxophonist and composer Patrick Cornelius plays it straight with Infinite Blue (Whirlwind Records, 2013). Jazz without gimmicks or chasers.

Collectively, the ensemble has shared the stage or studio with such luminaries as Maria Schneider Orchestra, Chick Corea, Brad Meldhau, Pat Metheny, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Joshua Redman. Cornelius plays the alto sax. His core group consists of Frank Kimbrough, piano; Michael Janisch, bass; and Jeff Ballard, drums. Trombonist Nick Vayenas appears on five tracks, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez appears on three, and pianist John Chin appears on one.

“Infinite Blue” is an ambient piece. Sax and trumpet share the lead during the main melody, then harmonize for the next passage. The horns soon step aside for the piano, with bass and drums assisting. Rodriguez comes forward in a mellow tone but with lots of vigor. Cornelius then licks his chops. Things get a little intense as he puts the alto through some complex rolls, but keeping with the ambient theme.

“Puzzler” is a high-energy, multiple-notes-per-beat selection. Vayenas joins the cast, completing a horn trio that leads during the opening sequence. Rodriguez embarks on a frantic solo, reminiscent of what one might expect from Freddie Hubbard or Randy Brecker. Janisch, Kimbrough and Ballard are firmly locked in underneath. Cornelius rejoins, engaging Rodriguez in a flurry of counterpunches before the trumpet courteously backs off. All stop as Ballard shows off his dexterity. Then the horns, bass and piano come back for the finale.

Infinite Blue is Cornelius’ second album on Whirlwind and his fourth as a leader. Born in San Antonio, Texas, was awarded a 2012 New Jazz Works Commission by Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Foundation. He is composing a suite of tunes for octet that are inspired by A.A. Milne’s collection of classic poems for children, When We Were Very Young. He is also three-time winner of the ASCAP Young Composer Award