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George Colligan: Blood Pressure

Mark Corroto By

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For the past ten years, every article or review about pianist George Colligan's music has opined as to when this very talented musician would become a household name. He has amassed an impressive list of sideman gigs with the likes of Cassandra Wilson, Don Byron, Buster Williams, Benny Golson and Lonnie Plaxico. His discography as a leader is also deep. Unfortunately, most of those discs have been released on foreign labels like Criss Cross, Fresh Sound New Talent and Steeplechase. I know you internet kids download things on iTunes, but I still prefer to read album labels, even if they come in CD form.

Colligan's last release was Renderings (FSNT, 2006), a fine chamber jazz outing with Andrew Rathbun. Before that, he posted two organ/fusion records, Realization (Sirocco, 2005) and Mad Science (Sunny Sky, 2003). While many listeners figure his meat and potatoes to be the acoustic jazz trio, his forays into life beyond the mainstream have been interesting.

On Blood Pressure, he dishes out just about everything from straight trio work to chamber music and spacey funk. Why not? Colligan can shape his approach in so many ways, he defies any attempt to pigeonhole his music.

The meat of this recording is certainly his trio playing with alternate bassists Josh Ginsberg and Boris Kozlov and drummers EJ Strickland or Johnathan Blake. Fans of Colligan know he spins energy and unlimited talent into his technique. While the brisk-paced, swinging tracks "Rose Colored Glasses, "Blood Pressure, Big Trouble and "Motivation are what we have come to expect from our man, the remainder of the recording raises the possibilities of even more new avenues for him to explore.

He tosses in four short segments (under two minutes each) that act as interludes, or perhaps possibilities to explore on his next albums. "Nightmare 1 is a call-and-response improvisation with Blake and Kozlov on electric bass, "Angry Monk is a no melody—no problem—stabbing Thelonious Monk piece, "Questions? plays with squiggly funk, and "Flashback 1 evokes a Sun Ra synth-echo chamber. All of these tracks are short enough not to offend his straight fans, yet tempting for the more adventurous.

Slightly out of context here is a very sweet chamber duo with violinist Meg Okura—another way too short composition at three minutes—where Colligan plays accompaniment. He also paints a bit with synthesizers on "Enjoy It While it Lasts and "Honesty. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's nicely done.


Track Listing: Rose Colored Glass; Debonaire; Blood Pressure; Enjoy It While It Lasts; Nightmare 1; Interiors; Big Trouble; Kerry

Personnel: George Colligan: piano, synthesizers; Josh Ginsberg: bass; Johnathan Blake: drums; Boris Kozlov: acoustic bass, electric bass; EJ Strickland: drums; Jamie Baum: flute; Meg Okura: violin.

Title: Blood Pressure | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Ultimatum Records

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