The artistic evolution of George Colligan, Ask Me Tomorrow is a stunning triumph!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Next to a solo piano release, the piano trio may be the most unforgiving ensemble presentations in improvisational music. The harmonic equivalent of tap dancing in a melodic minefield. This is an easy statement to make when you are an admittedly cynical critic that has reviewed more piano trios in four years than most people have heard in their lifetime. This is also a primary reason that George Colligan's Ask Me Tomorrow is a wondrous look into the cerebral vision of an artistic journey that has come full circle. There is a syncopated synergy of harmonic movement that some of Colligan's contemporaries have ignored, perhaps forgetting the piano originated as a percussive instrument. George Colligan pulls an ambient almost ethereal like quality while pushing what is normally considered the "straight ahead" sound into the next dimension.
To focus on the minutia of Ask Me Tomorrow in terms of critical analysis would be doing an injustice to this amazing collective that is rounded off with the fabulous Linda Oh on bass and the lyrical finesse of drummer Ted Poor. While Colligan would seem to favor minor keys, odd meters and an organic pulse, the overwhelming beauty of his melodies only seem stronger for his approach. Open, warm, deceptively subtle in nuanced texture is the embodiment of what can best be referred to as capturing lighting in a bottle as this is a live studio recording, three hours in the studio and no rehearsal. The results include the percussive insistence and odd metered groove of "Insistent Linda." We are also graciously served up an intimate "Jesper's Summer House." The richness of flavor is fortified with the dynamic tension of the free formed "Two Notes, Four Chords." The hauntingly beautiful "Denmark" may well be the jewel in this amazing collection. These are all original compositions, no standards...Ask Me Tomorrow is predictable by embracing an open ended unpredictable nature.
I have been hard on George Colligan and not because I know more about music or because I have some pseudo-intellectual axe to grind but because I knew this was an artist that could go deep. We all can pull from a deeper place; artists, listeners and especially critics. This is the George Colligan I have been waiting for. While the year is still relatively young, Ask Me Tomorrow may be one of the very best recordings I have heard in my four hundred plus reviews thus far and easily one of the most memorable piano trios that I have heard in the last decade.
Tracks: Ask Me Tomorrow; Two Notes, Four Chords; Denmark; Prague; Insistent Linda; Jesper's Summer House; Cathexis; Jet Blue.