Time out for a personal pitch regarding one of the most imaginative up-and- coming pianists on the contemporary jazz scene. Thirty-year-old New Jersey native, George Colligan has compiled quite a resume, what with offers for sideman gigs from Gary Thomas, Lee Konitz, Freddy Cole, Billy Hart, and Steve Wilson, not to mention a magnificent spate of recording activity that includes two sessions as a leader for Fresh Sound and another baker's dozen for SteepleChase. Problem is that very few outside the immediate circle have any familiarity with Colligan at all, and that's a shame because he's such a stimulating player.
While his past efforts for SteepleChase have put him in either trio (please check out Activism ) or large group settings (sample The Newcomer ), the recently-issued Small Room is a tour-de-force for Colligan's talents as a solo pianist. A virtual textbook on developing a set, the thirteen selections performed here bring out many sides of Colligan's personality and keep the attention level at peak performance. Along the way, you'll find everything from the mainstream swing of Kenny Barron's "Voyage" to more exploratory cuts such as "Afterthought" and Gary Thomas' "Exile's Gate." The lush romantic side also beams through with radiant takes of "Some Other Time" and "Only Trust Your Heart."
Clocking in at a tad bit over seventy minutes, Small Room was recorded in Denmark by SteepleChase owner and producer Nils Winther in 1998 and the overall recording quality is absolutely grand- focused, yet not too dry. As someone who as a rule typically avoids solo discs, the highest compliment I can give this set is that I never once reached for the remote and that's saying a lot!