George Colligan serves up an interesting if not slightly eclectic offering to offer a breath of fresh air to the all too predictable jazz trio format.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
George Colligan is a lunch pail pianist, he works incredibly hard. A diligent performer, teacher and over all student of music himself, Colligan has had the good fortune to develop a long association with iconic drummer Jack DeJohnette as well as an incredibly poor choice in one Nicholas Payton. You are known by the company you keep. That was then. This is now.
The Endless Mysteries is an incredibly engaging release where George pulls out just about every trick from his bag of harmonic goodness and does so with great success. The piano trio can become a bit predictable and a bit played out, George adds some flavor and lyrical diversity and turns what could be just about any piano trio release that you may well forget about into a release that will have you revisiting the endless mysteries it reveals on each subsequent play again and again.
Odd meter is not used as a self indulgent show case but instead a percussive nuance brings the stellar rhythm section of bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jack DeJohnette in as equal contributors and not after thoughts as is so often the case with similar groups. At times the release is an inspired and inspiring showcase with the controlled sonic fury of George having the ability to touch your heart or set your hair on fire depending upon which tune you may be digging. "Thoughts of Ana" is a ballad played with a sophisticated elegance seldom heard. The bossa groove of "Her Majesty" is a beat you feel in your hips. The use of the melodica leaves me cold...
George Colligan works hard and with The Endless Mysteries he plays hard as well. I have stated before that he falls into the upper echelon of players that are not leaders and my gut feeling may be that the addition of Grenadier and DeJohnette have forced him to step up his game. I do believe George is perhaps one of the best half dozen sidemen you can find. The Endless Mysteries is his finest work as a leader. Perfect? No...But as Coleman Hawkins said, "If you ain't making mistakes then you ain't trying." For this college professor an A for effort...
Tracks: Waiting for Solitude; Song for Tarahumera; Her Majesty; Liam's Lament; It's Hard Work!; Thoughts of Ana; Outrage; The Endless Mysteries; When the Moon is in the Sky; If the Mountain was Smooth, You Couldn't Climb It.
Personnel: George Colligan: piano, melodica; Larry Grenadier: acoustic bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums.