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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Graham Collier: The Day of the Dead

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Graham Collier's death, in 2011, lends this release a sad air--at least until the gravity of the music is considered, because truly the composer/arranger has gained some measure of immortality through it. Recorded over the years 1976 to 1978, the albums collected here mark a period of transition from Collier the bassist and small band leader to Collier the composer for large ensembles who grasped the implications of the tonal palette such groups could offer. In his way, he also came to grips with the implications of improvised music with spoken narration on The Day of the ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Graham Collier: Darius / Midnight Blue / New Conditions

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Graham Collier Music Darius / Midnight Blue / New Conditions BGO 2009

The benefit of hindsight reveals how the three LPs, recorded in the mid-1970s, collected here form the bridge between British bassist, composer and bandleader Graham Collier's early small group work and the expansion of tonal palette and compositional ambition that have marked his more recent forays. His music thus amounts to one of those occasions when increasing ambition is complimented by increasing creativity. Over the course of this collection, taken sequentially, that's readily apparent. Recorded during hardly the most creative time for ...

BOOK REVIEWS

The Jazz Composer: Moving Music Off The Paper

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The Jazz Composer: Moving Music Off The Paper Graham Collier Hardcover; 314 pages ISBN: 978 09557888 0 2 Northway Books 2009

Bassist, composer and bandleader Graham Collier's preoccupation with form is itself, in a very literal sense, a central concern of this book: with the passage of time, Collier's music has grown ever more structurally sophisticated. Such is its depth in 2009 that it is hardly surprising that The Jazz Composer: Moving Music Off The Paper should resemble a polemic in support of that trajectory, even while it discusses how to take jazz ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Graham Collier: Directing 14 Jackson Pollocks

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Graham Collier Directing 14 Jackson Pollocks Jazz Continuum 2009

Reissues can have a telescoping effect on our perception of an artist because they focus on music from the past, which in British bandleader and composer Graham Collier's case can be anything up to 40 or so years old. In the intervening decades his role as a composer has changed fundamentally, as has his place within a band. As a composer/director he now occupies a relatively sparsely populated place, but these recordings, from the early years of this century and the last decade of the ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Graham Collier: Deep Dark Blue Centre / Portraits / The Alternate Mosaics

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Graham Collier Deep Dark Blue Centre / Portraits / The Alternate Mosaics BGO Records 2008

This is the second chapter in BGO's reissue program of bassist/bandleader Graham Collier's work from the late 1960s and early 1970s. It gives listeners a chance to catch up with some of the most potent British jazz from a period when the music was moving forward at a rate and without a mind for the demands of commerce. Over the course of what were once three LPs, it also plots the course of Collier's development ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Graham Collier: Down Another Road / Songs For My Father / Mosaics

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Graham Collier Down Another Road / Songs For My Father / Mosaics BGO Records 2007

The late 1960s and early 1970s were years when European jazz in general, and British jazz in particular, came into their own in terms of the music making a fundamental break with established, exclusively American precedents.

This two-disc reissue of three Graham Collier albums made by the bassist/bandleader during the period underscores this contention. Collier's working methods, even at this relatively early stage of his career, already had something distinctive about them, and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Graham Collier: Down Another Road / Songs For My Father / Mosaics

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These days, British bassist Graham Collier is often considered more as a composer/arranger/bandleader, especially with archival issues like Hoarded Dreams (Cuneiform, 2007) and Workpoints (Cuneiform, 2005) placing emphasis on large ensemble work (though one disc of Workpoints featured a sextet). It's easy to forget that, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, he released some of the finest small ensemble jazz to come out of the UK, most notably a string of three titles that, up until now, have been out of print--Down Another Road (Fontana, 1969), Songs For My Father (Fontana, 1970) and Mosaics (Philips, 1971). Thankfully, BGO has ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Graham Collier: Hoarded Dreams

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Great music stands the test of time. Composer/arranger/bandleader Graham Collier proves that once again with the release of Hoarded Dreams. The work was commissioned by the Arts Council of Great Britain for the ninth Bracknell Jazz Festival in July 1983.

Collier has sandwiched five extended parts between the introduction and the coda. They become the take-off and landing points of the suite.

His writing is secure in its art. He lets structure lay the foundation and then opens the doors for improvisation. More, he lets the musicians stimulate the path with their own imagination. In tandem, they work wonders.

Collier ...

INTERVIEWS

Graham Collier: Forging Ahead

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British bandleader and composer Graham Collier is seventy this year. In the course of his career he has, perhaps, unusually become more expansive in his musical outlook, fashioning pieces for ensembles larger than those he was working with during the late 1960s and early 1970s, a period which is effectively the high water mark of the documentation of his music on record.

One of the many characteristics of his work is a singularity of artistic vision, arguably the pinnacle of achievement for any creative individual. At the same time he has always fashioned music in which ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Graham Collier: Hoarded Dreams

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Hindsight is arguably always a dubious benefit, but in this case it reveals that Hoarded Dreams just might be a touchstone for Graham Collier's music, more specifically the inventions for large ensembles that he's been fashioning for the last thirty-odd years.

This disc was recorded at the Bracknell Jazz Festival in England in 1983, and Collier was fortunate indeed in securing the services of a crack band for the realisation of his extended piece. What's perhaps most notable about the music is the way in which the nineteen musicians are never called upon to display power for its own sake, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Graham Collier: Hoarded Dreams

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A fanfare of trumpets launches this most exciting but hard-to-describe live recording into its own orbit of jazz. It's part Charles Mingus, part Sun Ra, part Duke Ellington, part Carla Bley, but all original, captivating the listener's attention immediately and not letting go. Following the frenetic opening of “Part 1 and a relatively frenetic opening to “Part 2, the tension eases into a more relaxed and almost rock-based 4/4 feel. “Part 3 begins contemplatively with an interwoven guitar soloing between other instruments and soloists before breaking up into a tight, moderately fast piece.

The short, dirge-like trombone solo on “Part ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Graham Collier: Workpoints

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While leading figures like George Shearing, John McLaughlin, Evan Parker and Derek Bailey have long been revered, many pundits still greet the topic of early British jazz with a smirk and a wink--no doubt due to the high profiles of hokey Dixieland revivalists like Chris Barber and Acker Bilk. But thanks to a spate of new ear-opening reissues like Proper's four-CD Jazz in Britain: 1919-1950, Honest Jons' London is the Place for Me series, the recent Tubby Hayes releases on Harkit and Art of Life--and this excellent two-disc set by bassist/composer/bandleader Graham Collier on Cuneiform--it's becoming increasingly clear that much ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Graham Collier: Workpoints

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With the often dubious benefit of hindsight it's possible to see bassist/composer/bandleader Graham Collier as something of a catalyst in the British jazz scene of the late 1960s and 1970s. The two discs here certainly lend substance to that impression, bringing together two different bands, with only Collier himself and trumpeter/flugelhornist Harry Beckett common to both, and two different sets of original Collier compositions.

Of these, “Workpoints" is significant because it was the first jazz work to receive a grant from the Arts Council of Great Britain, and to be sure it was money well spent. Despite the weighty sound ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Graham Collier & John Surman: Workpoints & Way Back When

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England in the late '60s was an exciting place for music and musicians. After years of accomplished, though derivative, jazz, the British scene was beginning to produce conceptualists with larger visions and to have the players in droves willing and able to play them. Around the same time that Mike Westbrook was developing his ideas, bassist Graham Collier was sowing the seeds of a particular kind of British jazz, one that made use of the many accomplished horn players available, and bridged the gap between freeform and trad styles. Graham Collier Workpoints Cuneiform



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