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Powerhouse drummer Colin Stranahan is a seventeen-year-old student at the Denver School of the Arts. Given an early jazz education from family, he has already made a vivid impression as a composer and bandleader and has received attention from jazz notables, including trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, who wrote the liner notes. If I'm not mistaken, Tony Williams started out with Miles Davis at the same age.
The only tune not composed by Stranahan, John Coltrane's hard bop piece "26-2" opens this album with a flourish. It is classic Blue Note circa 1960, with all hands taking brief solos. Everyone sounds authentic with a brief melody statement, three minutes of solos and then back to the head. Likewise, "Not Yesterday, Not Today, Not Tomorrow," a 12 minute-plus romp, starts with a Jazz Messenger-type riff, then follows with sharp and incisive statements from Michael Bailey on tenor sax, Kenny Warren on trumpet, Jim Stranahan (Colin's father) on soprano sax, and then guest Ron Miles on trumpet. On both this tune and the closer "Now I'm Up," the leader gets to show off his percussion skills with powerful solos. As a change of pace, "The Arrival" is presented as a piano trio ballad with Jenkins demonstrating a lyrical penchant and an impressive bass solo from Ken Walker with Shanahan staying with brushwork throughout the number.
I was somewhat disappointed that the eleven minute "As If The Dream Were Untold," which morphs into a pleasant jazz waltz statement, begins as a free jazz excursion, first from Jenkins' dissonant piano and then from Ron Miles' trumpet work. The tune is based upon a nightmare that Shanahan experienced. Indeed, I was ready to move ahead to the next track when at the three minute mark the melody arrived.
All things considered, this is a special album, notwithstanding that most of the music was written by a seventeen-year-old. Given a normal set of circumstances, I suspect that we'll be hearing many good things from this young man and his music... and for that matter, his group.
Track Listing: 26-2, Romaine's Groove, As If The Dream Were Untold, The Arrival, Not Yesterday, Not Today,Not Tomorrow, Now I'm Up.
Personnel: Colin Stranahan, drums; Michael Bailey, tenor sax; Kenny Warren,trumpet; Jeff Jenkins,piano;
Ken Walker, bass with guests Ron Miles, trumpet (3,5); Jim Stranahan, soprano sax (3,5).