Based in the Georgian splendour of the west of England town of Bath, pianist Mike Collins writes and plays music characterized by a melodic sensibility that seems to match his home town's air of respectability. Of course, the respectable surface of this Georgian town can readily hide an undercurrent of romance and powerful emotionsas Jane Austen knew so well. And Suddenly, Evening, Collins' follow-up to Suite Gorgeous (Suitepieces Records, 2009), mixes attractive melodies with a rhythmical flexibility that sees the group move smoothly from sweet romance to swing and a hint of funkiness.
Melody is to the fore on And Suddenly, Evening, starting with Peter Erskine's "On The Lake"a tune that's notable for the lightness of touch displayed by Collins, bassist Ashley-John Long and drummer Greg White. The addition of Lee Goodall's soprano sax adds to the tune's impact without sacrificing the gentleness of the performance. Collins starts "Oleo De Mujer Con Sombrero," by Cuban songwriter Silvio Rodriguez, alone, before Long joins in to create a moving duet. Alec Wilder's "Blackberry Winter" is sweet but never too sweet, thanks to Collins' percussive playing.
Collins' own tunes retain the focus on melody, but they're a little more up-tempo, with White driving the pace and adding a touch of urgency. "Grieg Is Here" is a trio outing with a gently funky rhythm. Goodall joins in for "Flat Six," a composition with a soul-jazz feel, while "ReProm" swings with the easy confidence of a quartet enjoying itself. The program rounds off with Thelonious Monk's classic "Ruby My Dear." It gets a romantic interpretation, centered on Goodall's tenor, that highlights the beauty of the tune and complements Collins' own lyrical approach to composition.
On The Lake; Grieg Is Here; Everything I Love; Blackberry Winter; Flat Six; Oleo De Mujer Con Sombrero; ReProm; Ruby My Dear.
Mike Collins: piano; Lee Goodall: saxophones; Ashley-John Long: double bass; Greg White: drums.
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