144

Graham Collier: Workpoints

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Graham Collier: Workpoints With the often dubious benefit of hindsight it's possible to see bassist/composer/bandleader Graham Collier as something of a catalyst in the British jazz scene of the late 1960s and 1970s. The two discs here certainly lend substance to that impression, bringing together two different bands, with only Collier himself and trumpeter/flugelhornist Harry Beckett common to both, and two different sets of original Collier compositions.

Of these, "Workpoints" is significant because it was the first jazz work to receive a grant from the Arts Council of Great Britain, and to be sure it was money well spent. Despite the weighty sound that the twelve-piece band frequently achieves, the deftness of touch here belies the size of the force deployed. The composed elements of all four parts of the piece provide stimulus for the soloists, yet at the same time they do not restrict the ensemble's freedom of movement. Furthermore, the reflective moments in themselves prove that these were players who collectively, and again with the benefit of hindsight, blazed something of a trail for British jazz in the post bop idiom.

Whilst the notion of having each of the band's horn sections solo exclusively on a particular part is hardly radical, it is a logical enough way of getting acquainted with their styles, and the fact that the soloists are helpfully listed eliminates the guesswork that would otherwise be involved. As such, Dave Aaron's alto sax owes slight allegiance to Lee Konitz in terms of his dryness of tone, whilst Harry Beckett is himself, a fact which is always worthy of the listener's attention.

The second disc is a comparatively more freewheeling affair, and the overall feel of the music leans a lot more towards fusion. This is thanks in no small part to guitarist Ed Speight and Roger Dean's use of electric piano. Happily, however, the excesses of which that form was often guilty are absent here, despite the fact that "Little Ben," for example, runs for eighteen and a half minutes. Speight's tone, comparatively hard as it is, lends a great deal of individuality to the music, alongside Beckett and Art Themen, whose tenor sax was as quirkily individualistic then as it is now.

Given the overall nature of the date, there are perhaps inevitably some longeurs, but again the band's knowledge of and appreciation for restraint keeps the music cooking. Thirty odd years on it's good to have this music out there, and both sets serve as further evidence of a scene, and indeed a period, in which the music was being taken in directions from which a lot of people have shied away in the meantime. Is it any wonder people get nostalgic?


Track Listing: Disc One: Deep Dark Blue Centre; The Barley Mow; Workpoints Part One; Workpoints Part Two; Workpoints Part Three; Workpoints Part Four. Disc Two: Little Ben; Under the Pier; Darius Part One; Darius Part Three; Darius Part Four; Darius Part One Reprise; Clear Moon; Mackarel Sky.

Personnel: Disc One, Workpoints: Kenny Wheeler (trumpet, flugelhorn); Harry Beckett (trumpet, flugelhorn); Henry Lowther (trumpet, flugelhorn); Dave Aaron (alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, flute); John Surman (baritone and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, piano); Karl Jenkins (baritone and soprano saxophones, oboe, piano); Chris Smith (trombone); Mike Gibbs (trombone); John Mumford (trombone, cowbell); Frank Ricotti (vibraphone, bongos); Graham Collier (bass, leader); John Marshall (drums). Disc Two, Live in Middleheim: Harry Beckett (trumpet, flugelhorn); Art Themen (tenor and soprano saxophone); Ed Speight (guitar); Roger Dean (piano, electric piano); Graham Collier (bass, leader); John Webb (drums).

Title: Workpoints | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read I Know Who I Am CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read With You In Mind CD/LP/Track Review With You In Mind
by Doug Collette
Published: July 26, 2017
Read Departure CD/LP/Track Review Departure
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 26, 2017
Read Roll On CD/LP/Track Review Roll On
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 25, 2017
Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 25, 2017
Read "Ziljabu Nights - Live at Theater Gutersloh" CD/LP/Track Review Ziljabu Nights - Live at Theater Gutersloh
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Have Yourself An Alto Madness Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Have Yourself An Alto Madness Christmas
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: January 21, 2017
Read "Morphogenesis" CD/LP/Track Review Morphogenesis
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Crop Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Crop Circles
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Iridescent Clouds" CD/LP/Track Review Iridescent Clouds
by James Nadal
Published: September 24, 2016
Read "Radioactive Landscapes EP" CD/LP/Track Review Radioactive Landscapes EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.