The ensemble of bassist Graham Collier (1937) that debuted on
Deep Dark Blue Centre (january 1967) was a septet with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, trombonist Mike Gibbs, Karl Jenkins on saxophones, oboe and piano, and drummer John Marshall. It already displayed the leader's skills at composing and organizing soloists that blossomed with the four-part suite Workpoints (composed in 1968 but released only in 2005), inspired by Charlie Mingus and first performed (in march 1968) by a 12-piece ensemble featuring saxophonist John Surman besides the previous talents.
Collier's group also recorded:
Down Another Road (march 1969),
Songs For My Father (1970),
Mosaics (december 1970),
Darius (march 1974),
Midnight Blue (february 1975),
the four-movement Symphony Of Scorpions (november 1976),
The Day Of The Dead (april 1978),
the six-movement suite Something British Made In Hong Kong (december 1985).
Collier, reportedly the first British graduate of Boston's Berklee College of Music, was a master of organized improvisation.
The double-disc Workpoints (Cuneiform, 2005) documents two live
performances by Collier's ensembles. The highlight of the first one (march 1968)
is the eponymous piece in four movements
performed by the legendary 12-piece ensemble. The horns fill the first movement
with a dark tension reminiscent of Hollywood noir film soundtracks, but
centrifugal forces dismember their counterpoint leading to a sequence of sparse
chaotic utterances to a soaring Latin-like rhythm.
The second movement takes a while to recover from the chaos, and only towards
the end rises to a pulsating and somewhat childish bedlam.
Loose free-form sounds dominate the third movement, while the fourth one,
driven by the vibraphone, finally displays some (frenzied) swing before
sinking in the quicksands of a long drum solo.
The same performance yielded the 18-minute Deep Dark Blue Center,
a continuous evolving stream of music, from exuberant swing themes to
New Orleans' marching fanfares.
The second disc contains a 1975 performance by a sextet, including a new
four-part suite, Darius, that was in turn influenced by Collier's
disciples Nucleus and Soft Machine, as well as
the 19-minute fusion work-out Little Ben.
The seven-part suite
Hoarded Dreams (july 1983 - Cuneiform, 2007) was scored for a 19-piece orchestra
(including saxophonist John Surman,
trumpeters Kenny Wheeler and Manfred Schoof).
Directing 14 Jackson Pollocks collects alternate tracks,
The Vonetta Factor, a composition of november 2004, and
The Alternate Third Colour,
The double-disc Luminosity - The Last Suites (JazzContinuum, 2014) contains Graham Collier's last works: Luminosity (composed in 2010) and The Blue Suite (composed in 2006, premiered in 2009).
Graham Collier died at 74 in september 2011.
His latest work, left unrecorded, was Memories Arrested In Space (the follow-up of Directing 14 Jackson Pollocks). Inspired by Jackson Pollock
paintings, it was premiered in november 2007 for six saxophone quartets.
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