Bassist Scott Colley steps into the big leagues with his first release for the adventuresome Palmetto Records label. Colley has been a leader of recording sessions in the past, his The Magic Line (Arabesque 2000) and Subliminal... (Criss Cross 1997) garnered critical press for the thirty-eight year-old musician and he has been part of several important recent sessions. Of note is his playing on Andrew Hill's Dusk (Palmetto), Greg Osby's Symbols Of Light (A Solution) (Blue Note), Brad Shepik's Short Trip (Knitting Factory), and Old School (MA) with Peter Epstein and Peter Erskine. He has also been a sideman to guitarist Jim Hall, pianist Jimmy Rowles, and singer Carmen McRae.
Initial Wisdom is a series of trio and quartet tracks with Bill Stewart who is Colley's drummer of choice from his other sessions, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, and guitarist Adam Rogers. This combination of players absolutely gels throughout. Rogers, a member of the jazz/rock/hip-hop band Lost Tribe, and recently singer Norah Jones, add a rocked-out gusto here. Not that Bill Stewart, a veteran of John Scofield's bands, is unfamiliar with loud jazz. His shuffle beat on "Rubber Clock" kicks off a jam sound favored in rock circles. Colley mixes things nicely here. Tempering the electric guitar with splashes of Rogers' acoustic action. Colley thumps through the funk on "The Susser" an obvious nod to the Brooklyn sounds of his former employer Greg Osby.
Colley exhibits the influence his instructor/idol Charlie Haden has over his playing by covering Ornette Coleman's "Alpha." The trio announces they are playing something else! with the aggressive tenor attack poised by Ravi Coltrane as Colley drives both Stewart and Coltrane onward. For the graybeards, this is the highlight of the recording. The band doesn't just cover Ornette they rekindle the Coleman revolution. Coltrane's horn playing has sounded cautious in the past, here he works both the soprano and tenor to great effect. His tenor sound is getting rounder and broader with age.
Colley penned six of the nine tracks heard here. Besides the modern sound he can move inside shifting moods pleasurably as on "Scorpios" and venture outward on the eerie "Trip," where Rogers showcases varied guitar effects.
This is a stellar effort from a nearly perfect combination of modern players. It bears repeated listening.
Personnel: Scott Colley: bass; Ravi Coltrane: soprano and tenor saxophone; Adam Rogers: guitars; Bill Stewart: drums.