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Colin Stranahan: Transformation

Dan McClenaghan By

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Can anybody in this band buy a beer, legally? Nobody in the rhythm section can. Drummer/leader Colin Stranahan is nineteen years old, pianist Pascal Le Boeuf is eighteen, and bassist Dominic Thiroux is just a year older. Reaching outside the rhythm team, reedman Remy Le Boeuf—Pascal's twin, incidentally—is, of course, also eighteen years of age. Which would leave all the beer runs to tenor saxophonist Michael Bailey, the old man of the core group at 21.

But considering the level of skill and freshness this group brings to the mainstream, age shouldn't be considered a factor.

Transformation is Colin Stranahan's second release as a leader. His first, Dreams Untold (Capri Records, '04) showcased the young drummer within the context of a strong support system—how many seventeen-year-olds can get trumpeter Ron Miles to play on their record?—and featured his songwriting talents within the framework of a very solid band. With this second outing, the drummer/leader has hooked up with some likeminded mates who are not only top-notch musicians, but very fine songwriters, too.

Remy Le Boeuf's "Song for Briana #3" features a haunting tenor sax lead-in and a restrained tempo that picks up after a pensive piano solo. Strong stuff. The Le Boeuf twins are, individually, responsible for half the tune-smithing on this ten track set, contributing compositions that are remarkable for their rhythmic gear shifts, subtle interplay, and insistent forward momentum. Bassist Dominic Thiroux penned two of the tunes, the introspective "The Search" and the bright, up-tempo "No Thanks."

Stranahan's "Out of Reach" is a thoughful ballad, gentle and ethereal, with the interesting addition of Mark Clifford on vibes to the lineup. This tune has a Miles Davis Nefertiti feeling to it, the ensemble meshing smoothly, with a dreamy insistence.

Transformation is a fine and mature sound, a step forward from Dreams Untold, with Stranahan and his young compatriots in the drivers' seats, occasionally joined by a couple of guest appearances by a couple of veterans you have to be sharp to keep up with: trumpeter Greg Gisbert (Maria Schneider Orchestra) and alto saxophonist Jim Stranahan.

As to Colin Stranahan's drumming style: I remarked on it on Dreams Untold, saying I couldn't figure his influences; I still can't; he has an original approach, and it's worth a spin or two just to concentrate on his percussion.


Track Listing: Song for Briana #3; Casa Zimbabwe; You Are; Piece of Mind; The Search; No thanks; Sisyfus; Out of Reach; It's Not Always About You; Moods of Perceptual Motion.

Personnel: Colin Stranahn: drums; Michael Bailey: tenor sax; Remy Le Boeuf: tenor and alto saxes, flute; Pascal Le Boeuf: piano; Dominic Thiroux: bass; Special guests: Jim Stranahan: alto sax (9); Greg Gisbert: trumpet; Mark Clifford: vibes.

Title: Transformation | Year Released: 2006


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