We are all drawn inexorably towards simplicity. Jazz is a uniquely intellectual music, and yet its greatest works are undeniably simple. Listen to Miles' Kind of Blue
or Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert
, and you'll realize there's something beautiful about complete understatement.
While not to be included along with the aforementioned albums, the Pat Collins Quartet has succeeded in constructing a deceptively simple recording with In the Moment
. While a collective effort, it's obviously of Collins' making. The bassist alludes to Dave Holland with his rhythmic melodicism, and he and drummer Barry Elmes conjure an omnipresent pocket over which the soloists are free to roam.
The album opens with "Siwash and Mike Murley's doleful saxophone tone. I could not help but be reminded of Chris Potter's Unspoken
(Concord, 1997), recorded with Holland, John Scofield, and Jack DeJohnette. Collins takes a relatively active solo, never failing to drive the song in the process. So many bassists bring the momentum of a tune to a halt when they solo, creating essentially their own space. Collins and his band are about the collective, however, never overplaying to the detriment of the music.
Guitarist Reg Schwager shines on "Trigalory, showcasing once again the logical simplicity present throughout. Murley speeds the piece up and the other players follow, showing that they can swing hard, too. Collins interjects, immediately slowing the band down, but his solo, combined with Elmes' accompaniment, provide one of the recording's highlights.
The words "accessible, "mainstream, and "simple all have negative connotations when it comes to jazz. Jazz is art, say the purists, not meant to be understood by the layman. Wrong, I say. If, as we experience every day, true genius can be expressed through simplicity, then why shouldn't great jazz be accessible? Why shouldn't it attract the attention of the casual listener as well as the connoisseur?
Pat Collins and his quartet were obviously posing the same question when they recorded In the Moment. They have assembled a solid foundation on which to build their reputation, showcasing the obvious talents of each band member while emphasizing a group dynamic. This is an extremely strong first effort. Highly recommended.
Personnel: Pat Collins: bass;
Mike Murley: saxophone;
Reg Schwager: guitar;
Barry Elmes: drums.