All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

267

George Colligan: Past-Present-Future

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
In the decade since pianist George Colligan emerged, he's established himself as a player of choice for artists like Cassandra Wilson, Don Byron, and Buster Williams. While he's yet to achieve the kind of status of Brad Mehldau, it's certainly no surprise why, in these days of shtick-inflected piano trios like the Bad Plus, Colligan remains out of the limelight. Unassuming and unaffected, there's nothing trendy about him. And while he is every bit as engaging a player as Mehldau, Mehldau's more singular focus and sense of purpose have seen him ascend to greater heights of popularity.

But Colligan is an equally deserving torch-carrier of the piano trio tradition. His latest release, the aptly named Past-Present-Future, clearly looks in all directions. And, while Colligan is a less overtly cerebral player than Mehldau, he has a similarly rich sense of harmonic depth that also places him in the company of British pianist John Taylor—someone who, after decades of working in relative obscurity, is finally being seen as an artist of significance. There is little doubt that Colligan will ultimately be held in the same high regard, and albums like Past-Present-Future clearly move him towards that day.

While the focus of the album is on standards material, Colligan tackles a number of less commonly-covered compositions. But even when he interprets a chestnut like Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," the emphasis may be on "sophisticated" harmonically, but rhythmically it charges out of the gate with what saxophonist John Stubblefield appropriately calls "The New York Roar": a strong medium-tempo swing where drummer Bill Stewart delivers a vivid Elvin Jones-like triplet feel. Bassist Vicente Archer proves himself to be a strong soloist and an empathic accompanist as he works hand-in-glove with Stewart behind Colligan's outgoing solo.

Like saxophonist Dexter Gordon, Colligan maintains an awareness of the lyrics belonging to the tunes he covers. The trio's treatment of "East of the Sun" remains respectful of the strong melody, even as Stewart's ability to ignore bar boundaries keeps their irregular-metered reading of it natural and swinging. The title track, the only Colligan-penned tune of the set, is another example of his vivacious personality. While Colligan is an elegant player who approaches even the most dissonant of voicings with a certain subtlety and rounded edge, there's nothing impressionistic about his playing—imaginative though it may be, there's little left to the imagination.

Or is there? A clear highlight of the set is his solo performance of Jaco Pastorius' classic "Three Views of a Secret," where Colligan's left hand sometimes explicitly carries the time, elsewhere only implying it. Either way it grooves.

It's possible that Colligan's failure to reach a broader audience has to do with his spreading himself stylistically across a wider landscape, at times playing electric keyboards and organ. Not that there's anything wrong with diversity, but albums like Past-Present-Future go a long way to affirming Colligan's position as one of the leading young proponents of the acoustic piano trio.


Track Listing: Sophisticated Lady; Akatumbo; East of the Sun; This Nearly Was Mine; Past Present Future; Three Views of a Secret; Cinema Paradiso; Holiday for Strings; Body and Soul; Invitation.

Personnel: George Colligan: piano); Vicente Archer: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.

Title: Past-Present-Future | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Criss Cross

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

If the Mountain Was Smooth, You Couldn't Climb It

If the Mountain Was Smooth, You Couldn't Climb It

George Colligan
The Endless Mysteries

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
More Powerful

More Powerful

Whirlwind Recordings Ltd
2017

buy
George Colligan: The Endless Mysteries

George Colligan: The...

Origin Records
2014

buy
The Endless Mysteries

The Endless Mysteries

Origin Records
2014

buy
 

Isolation

SteepleChase Records
2011

buy
Living for the City

Living for the City

SteepleChase Records
2011

buy
Isolation

Isolation

SteepleChase Records
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Between the Silence CD/LP/Track Review
Between the Silence
by John Kelman
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Flying CD/LP/Track Review
Flying
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Barxeta II CD/LP/Track Review
Barxeta II
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Vidas Simples CD/LP/Track Review
Vidas Simples
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Kinship CD/LP/Track Review
Kinship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2018
Read Ask For Chaos CD/LP/Track Review
Ask For Chaos
by Gareth Thompson
Published: August 18, 2018
Read "Root Structure" CD/LP/Track Review Root Structure
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 31, 2017
Read "Homage to a Dreamer" CD/LP/Track Review Homage to a Dreamer
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 18, 2018
Read "Choices and Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Choices and Melodies
by John Eyles
Published: May 28, 2018
Read "Transatlantic" CD/LP/Track Review Transatlantic
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 16, 2018
Read "4" CD/LP/Track Review 4
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 27, 2018
Read "There'll Be Some Changes Made" CD/LP/Track Review There'll Be Some Changes Made
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: May 17, 2018