340

George Colligan's Mad Science: Realization

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
George Colligan's Mad Science: Realization Since emerging on the scene a scant ten years ago, pianist George Colligan has built the kind of body of work that some artists don't manage in twice or thrice the time. Appearing on over seventy recordings, including over a dozen as a leader, Colligan has proven that one doesn't have to be stylistically myopic to remain focused. Instead, he seems to have an all-encompassing musical appetite. And yet, unlike some who attempt a variety of musical styles and ultimately end up sounding like dabblers rather than serious contenders, Colligan seems to "get everything he tackles.

That Past-Present-Future (Criss Cross, 2005) and Realization can come from the same artist indicates the extended range of Colligan's musical reach. The former is a piano trio disc, with heavy emphasis on standards, while the latter is a hard-hitting funk and fusion affair with Colligan on Hammond B3 organ and synthesizers, featuring his Mad Science trio and a set of original compositions mainly by Colligan, but with one short piece each by guitarist Tom Guarna and drummer Rodney Holmes.

There are trace elements of '70s fusion groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever, but the group that Colligan seems most inspired by is the early Tony Williams Lifetime trio with Larry Young and John McLaughlin, although Mad Science is less raw, with fewer nerves exposed. Still, the energy level is high on tunes including the funky "Grounded and the up-tempo 7/4 faux-Latin of "Oblivion.

Few pianists make a successful transition to organ, but Colligan clearly understands the different aesthetic. Colligan's use of synthesizer is spare, managing to sound somehow retro while staying away from the seemingly inevitable cheese factor. And while Mad Science is all about the f-word, everyone manages to stay away from the meaningless pyrotechnics that so often give fusion a bad name.

That doesn't mean there isn't plenty of high velocity playing. Guarna often favours a thick fuzz tone that hasn't been heard much since the early '70s, soaring on tracks like the brisk "Utopian Struggle. But even at his most energetic, Guarna's solos don't feel like speed for the sake of it; there's a sense of purpose that is antithetical to the kind of musical excess so often heard in fusion. Likewise, Colligan places substance ahead of style, with well-constructed solos that are open-ended yet logically self-contained.

Holmes is equally capable. When he breaks into a fast triplet feel over the sneaky hip-hop beat of "Snidely Whiplash, one is reminded of Dennis Chambers' Blue Matter-era work with John Scofield, but with more restraint.

Realization is the kind of record that counters all the usual arguments against fusion. Powerful without being heavy-handed, George Colligan's Mad Science proves that lithe and lively playing doesn't have to come at the expense of taste and discretion.

Visit George Colligan on the web.


Track Listing: Grounded; Snidely Whiplash; Realization; Oblivion; Blue Box; Human Need; Utopian Struggle; Muse; Reminder; Goblet of Rock; Stockholm Street Breakdown

Personnel: George Colligan (Hammond B3 Organ, Computer Synthesizers), Tom Guarna (guitars), Rodney Holmes (drums)

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Sirocco Music Limited | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Days Are Not Days" CD/LP/Track Review Days Are Not Days
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 31, 2016
Read "Goodbye to Language" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye to Language
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Life and Other Transient Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Life and Other Transient Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "Terre II" CD/LP/Track Review Terre II
by Tyran Grillo
Published: June 7, 2016
Read "Fourtune" CD/LP/Track Review Fourtune
by Duncan Heining
Published: November 28, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!