UK-based composer and bass player Greg Cordez release his third album Magnolia through the Ropeadope label in 2021. The follow-up to the acclaimed Last Things Last featured as an editor’s choice in Downbeat magazine. Magnolia reunites Cordez with Steve Cardenas on guitar and includes a stellar cast of New York City-based musicians – Jon Cowherd on piano/keys, Tony Malaby on saxophones, Kenny Wollesen on drums.
Magnolia was an album written in transit and reflects time spent in a gatehouse of the foot of the Brecon Beacons in Wales, the inspiration and chaos of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, and an extended stay in Reykjavik, Iceland. Each place greatly influencing the music and narratives contained within. Returning to Bunker Studios in early February 2020 to work with Aaron Nevize. With guidance from Chris Lightcap, the album builds on the lessons learned from Last Things Last and explores the themes of recalibration, grief, and the letting go required to move into a new phase of life.
The music remains influenced by Reid Anderson’s music, who kindly loaned Cordez his bass for the recording and in conversations with Chris Lightcap, Todd Sickafoose, and Alexis Cuadrado. Drawing from the minimalist influences, post-rock and Americana found in previous albums, Magnolia also seeks to include contemporary jazz and collective improvisation, meaning Cordez having to navigate this initial reticence and vulnerability.
‘I was interested in opening up more improvisational moments than in the previous album, but also trying to maintain a compositional through-line, in which the solos were part of a larger narrative contained within the composition.
It also meant meeting my own fears and doubt as an improvising musician, which can be heard in both my playing and in the music written. This internal tension is complemented by the support and deep playing of Steve, Kenny, Jon, and Tony, who 100% understood the music from the first note played.’
Magnolia is the final piece of a three-act cycle which is evident by a returning to themes of the first album Paper Cranes, the resolution of Last Things Last and the album concludes with the piece All That Is (pt2). With this body of work completed, work begins on a new cycle.
Tenor and Soprano Saxophones: Tony Malaby
Electric Guitar: Steve Cardenas
Piano and Keyboards: Jon Cowherd
Upright and Electric Bass: Greg Cordez
Drums: Kenny Wollesen
Recorded at Bunker Studios, Brooklyn
Music composed, produced, and arranged by Greg Cordez
At your leisure, listen to “MAGNOLIA” by Greg Cordez