Graham Collier

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Deep Dark Blue Center (1967), 5.5/10
Down Another Road (1969), 5/10
Songs for my Father (1970), 5/10
Mosaics (1970), 5/10
Darius (1974), 5/10
Midnight Blue (1975), 5/10
Symphony of Scorpions (1976), 5/10
The Day of the Dead (1978), 5/10
Hoarded Dreams (1983), 6/10
Something British Made in Hong Kong (1985), 5/10
Directing 14 Jackson Pollacks (2004), 6/10
Workpoints (2005), 7/10
Luminosity- The Last Suites (2014), 6/10
Memories Arrested in Space (2017), 5.5/10

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.

Hamburg 1968 (december 1968), containing the 13-minute Indian Rock and the 11-minute Across The River, documents a live performance with Tony Roberts (tenor sax, bass clarinet and flute), Stan Sulzmann (alto and tenor saxes and flute), Karl Jenkins (oboe, piano, baritone and soprano saxes), Harry Beckett (trumpet and flugelhorn), Ted Curson (trumpet and piccolo trumpet), Nick Evans & John Mumford (both on trombone), Pierre Cavalli (guitar), and John Marshall (drums).

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, (november 1997).

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.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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