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As a pianist and composer, George Colligan fits the category of talent deserving of wider recognition better than anyone else out of the current thirty-something crowd. Not yet a household name, Colligan can give his better-publicized peers, such as Brad Mehldau, a run for their money. He has already established a great catalog of recordings for the SteepleChase label utilizing various formats. Add to that this rather unusual project recorded in Barcelona, Spain for the Fresh Sound label. As the story goes, George was traveling in Spain and doing a tour with drummer Mark Miralta’s New York Jazz Flamenco Reunion. Excited by the repartee that had been established, they went into the studio and cut Desire.
Colligan, with the exception of Strayhorn’s “Upper Manhattan Medical Group”, writes all of the tunes heard here. They cover quite a lot of ground. For example, “Colors of Love” sports a very authentic samba beat and Perico Sambeat’s airy flute voices the melody with just the right amount of sweetness. Both “Ancestral Wisdom” and “Open” explore various shifting meters, with the latter featuring Sambeat’s soprano and a reoccurring vamp that recalls Ralph Towner’s writing for Oregon. “Last November” is a lovely ballad-like piece that balances out the program, while the previously mentioned “Upper Manhattan...” skates along nicely in five.
Make no mistake about the fact that the Spanish rhythm team assembled here is strictly first-rate and Colligan genuinely seems to prosper in this environment. His own playing continues to be marked by an advanced harmonic logic and a mercurial technique that allows his fingers to do whatever his mind dictates. While Desire may require a bit more effort to track down in comparison to major label product, it’s certainly worth the effort.
Track Listing: Battle Cry, Darkness Rising, Ancestral Wisdom, Desire, Last November, Colors of Love, Open, Epilogue, Upper Manhattan Medical Group
Personnel: George Colligan (piano & trumpet), Perico Sambeat (alto & soprano sax, flute), Mario Rossy (bass), Marc Miralta (drums)
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.