Monday, 11 November 2013

Hidden Gems: Graham Collier's Deep Dark Blue Center

I’ve been thinking of the days when I was a student and how we would get together to listen to new recordings that our friends had found.  With the nearly unlimited instant electronic access we have now it may seem strange, but in those days a new LP or cassette was a big deal and everyone was anxious to hear anything new.  In the interest of sparking some of that interest among some of you younger Cap Jazz folk, I’m starting a series of blog posts featuring ‘hidden gems’ that may not pop up so readily on youtube searches.

Here's the first one:

Graham Collier was an amazing English bassist and composer active from the early 1960s until his death in 2011.  This record features some of the best of the British scene of the time playing Collier’s compositions.  Everyone plays beautifully, but of special note for me is the contrast between the two great trumpeters Kenny Wheeler and Harry Beckett, as well as the great rhythm section hookup of Collier and John Marshall.  The writing is very diverse and inventive in its use of counterpoint, background figures, riffs and ostinatos. Think Gil Evans meets Mingus. Perhaps the most significant feature for me is the fact that large open spaces are left in the composed material for players to stretch out and make their own contribution.  This remained an essential component of Collier’s approach until the end.  His book, The Jazz Composer: Moving the Music off the Paper (there is a copy at the Cap library), is great read offering many opinions and perspectives that are unique to Collier and which will probably make you shout in agreement or slam the cover shut in anger - or maybe both in the same chapter.  It is a real mind-expander and highly recommended.  The book, this recording, and many others can be found at Graham's website, maintained since Collier's death by his partner, John Gill. PLEASE Don't be cheap and dishonest and look for a place to download the music for free. Download legally or purchase a hard copy. John is a lovely fellow and will be happy to send things in the mail.

Check it out!


Harry Beckett or Kenny Wheeler (trumpet and flugelhorn)
Dave Aaron (alto sax & flute)
Mike Gibbs (trombone)
Karl Jenkins (baritone sax & oboe)
Philip Lee (guitar)
John Marshall (drums)

Graham Collier (bass)

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